Queen Elizabeth expresses condolences amid Australia bush fires
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Queen Elizabeth expressed her condolences to Australian officials this week amid wildfires that have ravaged the country over the past several months.

"I have been deeply saddened to hear of the continued bushfires and their devastating impact across many parts of Australia," the United Kingdom monarch said. "My thanks go out to the emergency services, and those who put their own lives in danger to help communities in need."

"Prince Philip and I send our thoughts and prayers to all Australians at this difficult time," she continued.

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Fires have been devastating Australia since November. They are responsible for the deaths of more than a dozen people and, according to University of Sydney researchers, the displacement or deaths of about 480 million animals

The blazes have become a political issue in the country and have placed a spotlight on the Australian governments' environmental stances, with some criticizing its reliance on the coal industry. 

The royal family has recently announced a separate environmental initiative. Prince William said on New Year's Eve that he will launch a multimillion-dollar environmental prize that aims to create advancements around climate change solutions.