The Duchess of Cambridge has praised the “inspirational” people who have served with their communities to help tackle the successive waves of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kate said she and her husband, Prince William, wanted to recognise those whose struggles might have been less obvious during the pandemic.
She was speaking as she introduced a community carol service at Westminster Abbey in London on December 8, which was recorded to be screened on TV for Christmas Eve.
The UK is fighting the latest wave of Covid with the Omicron variant driving infections to new highs.
“We wanted to say a huge thank you to all those amazing people out there who have supported their communities," Kate said.
“We also wanted to recognise those whose struggles perhaps have been less visible, too."
She said the country had endured “such a bleak time” and had faced “many challenges”, including the loss of loved ones, while frontline workers had been under “immense pressure".
Kate said that while people had been “more emotionally and socially distanced and isolated from each other”, it helped people to realise “how much we need each other” and the importance of acts of kindness.
She praised the “many inspirational individuals” within the congregation at her community carol service, which was attended by those recognised as unsung heroes for their community work, and said they were owed “a huge debt of gratitude".
The duchess's message was recorded on December 8 during a visit to the abbey to help with preparations, including decorating Christmas trees donated by Queen Elizabeth from Windsor Great Park, and arranging wreaths donated by the Royal Horticultural Society.
The service included music from the Westminster Abbey choir, and featured performances from Leona Lewis, Ellie Goulding and Tom Walker, who performed his Christmas single For Those Who Can't Be Here.
It also features readings from Prince William, British Paralympian and junior doctor Kim Daybell, actor Tom Felton and presenter Kate Garraway, in addition to a performance of To The Day, a composition written for the service by poet and writer Lemn Sissay.
It will air as Royal Carols: Together At Christmas at 7.30pm on Christmas Eve on ITV.