During her televised address to the nation, the Queen also paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, who has retired from solo public duties, praising his “support and unique sense of humour”.
The Queen’s message to the nation and the Commonwealth looked back over the previous 12 months and took “home” as its theme.
In her pre-recorded address, filmed at Buckingham Palace, the Queen said: “This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past twelve months in the face of appalling attacks.”
The nation endured a series of devastating terrorist atrocities during the year, beginning with the Westminster Bridge attack in March that saw four pedestrians die when an attacker, later shot dead by police, drove at them before fatally stabbing a police officer.
In Manchester a few months later 22 people – including children – were killed when a lone suicide attacker detonated an explosive device as crowds of music fans left Manchester Arena following a performance by US singer Ariana Grande.
There were more deaths in June when three terrorists in a van ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge then went on a knife rampage in Borough Market, killing eight in total. They were shot dead by police.
The address traditionally has a strong religious framework reflecting the Queen’s faith, and is written by the monarch who draws on current issues and her own experiences over the past year.
Of the “sheer awfulness” of the Grenfell Tower fire, which claimed the lives of 71 people, the Queen said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who died and those who lost so much, and we are indebted to members of the emergency services who risked their own lives this past year saving others.”
A framed photograph of Meghan Markle and fiance Prince Harry was displayed with other family pictures as the monarch spoke, and the pair also featured in video footage aired at the end of the festive broadcast.
In an apparent reference to the couple’s wedding next May, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby, expected in April, the Queen said this Christmas her family “…look forward to welcoming new members into it next year”.
Philip, famed for his quips, inquisitive mind and “no-fuss” attitude, stood down from his solo public role in August, although he has made the occasional appearance at events involving the Queen.
Speaking about the Christmas message’s theme the Queen said: “We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love… there is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home.”
Pictures of the Queen’s great grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, coudl also be seen, along with two wedding related images of the Queen and Philip – but taken 70 years apart.
The royal couple are featured in a black and white image from their 1947 wedding, and in a colour photo released to mark their 70th wedding anniversary celebrated in November.
The Queen added: “I don’t know that anyone had invented the term ‘platinum’ for a 70th wedding anniversary when I was born. You weren’t expected to be around that long.
“Even Prince Philip has decided it’s time to slow down a little, having, as he economically put it, ‘done his bit’.”
This year’s annual address was produced by Sky News and was recorded in the palace’s 1844 room which is decorated with a large tree and features family photos.
In the broadcast the Queen wore an ivory white dress by Angela Kelly, an outfit she first wore with a matching coat and hat for the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant in 2012. She also wore a star-shaped diamond brooch.