updated 12/25/2006 11:58:42 AM ET 2006-12-25T16:58:42

Queen Elizabeth, who turned 80 this year, called in her annual Christmas Day message for young and old to bridge the widening generation gap.

The British monarch said all religions recognized the unique attributes of both ends of the age spectrum — the drive and energy of the young and the maturity of the old.

“The wisdom and experience of the great religions point to the need to nurture and guide the young, and to encourage respect for the elderly,” she said.

However, too often a gulf of ignorance or misunderstanding was allowed to open between the generations, threatening to tear families and communities apart.

“As children grow up and develop their own sense of confidence and independence in the ever-changing technological environment, there is always the danger of a real divide opening up between young and old,” she said in a recorded message.

“All of our faith communities encourage the bridging of that divide,” the queen said.

The queen, who has four children and seven grandchildren, for the first time made her Christmas message available on podcast via the www.royal.gov.uk Web site.

With life expectancy rising, she said the aged had an increasingly important part to play in an increasingly diverse society.

“As older people remain more active for longer, the opportunities to look for new ways to bring young and old together are multiplying,” she said.

“I am reminded of a lady of about my age who was asked by an earnest, little grand-daughter the other day: ‘Granny, can you remember the Stone Age?’

“Whilst that may be going a bit far, the older generation are able give a sense of context as well as the wisdom of experience which can be invaluable,” the queen said.

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