The Queen has sent a message of congratulations to Canada as 2017 marks the 150th year of the country's Confederation.
In the video message her Majesty, who can be seen dressed in a blue outfit with a maple leaf brooch, says: "I am delighted to offer all Canadians my best wishes and congratulations on the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Countries throughout the Commonwealth and, indeed, around the world, rejoice with you as you embark on this special year. Throughout the years, particularly since your Centennial year, I have watched Canada develop into a remarkable nation.
"You have earned a reputation as a welcoming, respectful and compassionate country. Fifty years ago, on the eve of the Centennial, I encouraged Canadians to continue to embody the values of equality, freedom and inclusion. Today, these values remain deeply rooted in the Canadian experience… On this eve of national celebrations, my family and I are with you in spirit. We pray that God will bless Canada and that, over the next 150 years, Canadians will continue to build a better country and a better world. As you prepare to mark this important milestone in your country’s history, I send my warmest good wishes to you all." Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also posted a video in honour of the special anniversary, calling the beginning of the year: "150 years in the making and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ring in the New Year together."
The monarch is thought to have recorded the message several weeks ago as she has been suffering from a "heavy cold" for the last two weeks, leading her to miss the Christmas Day and New Year's Day church services at Sandringham for the first time in 28 years. A spokesperson confirmed: "Her Majesty the Queen will not attend Sunday worship at Sandringham today. The Queen does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is still recuperating from a heavy cold."