Queen Elizabeth II has recalled her historic visit to Ireland in her annual Christmas Day broadcast.

She also emphasised the importance of family and the formation of friendships during times of adversity and crisis.

In her speech, the Queen said the spirit of friendship evident during her visit to Ireland last May provided hope for the future.

She said: "This past year has also seen some memorable and historic visits - to Ireland and from America. The spirit of friendship so evident in both these nations can fill us all with hope.

"Relationships that years ago were once so strained have through sorrow and forgiveness blossomed into long- term friends
hip. It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow."

In her speech she also said her family had been inspired by the courage and hope shown by people, particularly those affected by natural disasters such as floods in Australia and earthquakes in New Zealand.

Queen Elizabeth II, together with her husband Prince Philip, undertook a four-day state visit to Ireland in May.