LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth used her annual Christmas Day broadcast on Thursday to advocate reconciliation, especially in Scotland where an unsuccessful independence referendum earlier this year polarized public opinion.
Channeling the spirit of a brief World War One Christmas truce between British and German soldiers 100 years ago, the 88-year-old monarch held the historic moment out as an example of how irreconcilable differences can sometimes be bridged.
"Of course, reconciliation takes different forms. In Scotland after the referendum many felt great disappointment, while others felt great relief; and bridging these differences will take time," she said.
Scots voted by a margin of 55-45 to reject independence from the United Kingdom in a September referendum after a sometimes bitter two-year campaign which divided friends and families.
Alex Salmond, the former leader of the defeated pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) suggested before the vote that his party would accept the result, however close, and not resurrect the matter for years.
But the SNP has since staged an unexpected recovery and, under its new leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has made clear it will work towards a second referendum. The divisions that opened up during the referendum campaign remain raw.
"Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord," said the queen. "But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women."
Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Ruth Pitchford