Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to the London 2012 athletes in her annual Christmas message to the Commonwealth, saying they had inspired the world and drawn people in to the excitement and drama.

The 86-year-old monarch praised the achievement and courage on show at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in her annual Christmas address, which was broadcast in 3-D for the first time when it aired Tuesday.

The message was recorded earlier in Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room on Dec. 7.

She has made a broadcast every year since coming to the throne except 1969. That was because a repeat of the landmark behind-the-scenes documentary “Royal Family” was already scheduled for the holiday period.

The speech is one of the rare occasions when the queen is able to voice her own views, since as a constitutional monarch she has to remain strictly neutral in political affairs. She writes the speech herself.

Members of the royal family are at her private Sandringham estate in eastern England, where they traditionally spend their winter break.

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