LONDON — With the number of coronavirus deaths in Britain approaching 5,000 and people confined to their homes under ever-stricter lockdown measures, Queen Elizabeth II made an extraordinary — and very personal — address to the British public on Sunday night, urging people to exercise their self-discipline and resolve, and telling them “better days will return.”
No one else here could have delivered such a powerful message: The Queen, who turns 94 later this month, drew on Britain’s 20th-century history — and her own past — in an effort to comfort the public and rouse them to action in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
She said Sunday night’s address reminded her of the very first broadcast she made. It was during World War II, when she was a teenager, and she spoke alongside her younger sister, Princess Margaret.
“We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do,” she said.
Dressed in an aqua green dress and with her signature three strands of graduated pearls, the Queen was speaking from Windsor Castle, where she is in quarantine with her husband, Prince Philip. While the Queen may address Britons every year at Christmas, Sunday was only the fourth time in her long reign that she chose to make a special broadcast during difficult times for the country.
The Queen said if everyone remained united and resolute, “then we will overcome it. We should take comfort that while we have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again.”
The latter phrase recalled the lines from the famous World War II song “We’ll Meet Again,” sung by Vera Lynn in the film of the same name.
The Queen, who praised and thanked National Health Service workers, also appealed to Britons’ sense of national pride: “The pride in who we are is not part of our past, it defines our present and our future. We will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us.”
The message was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, with all social distancing measures in place. One cameraman was present, and he was wearing gloves and a mask, according to Sky News. Other technical staff had to work in a separate room filled with monitors and speakers.
As reported, Britain’s Royal Family has been vocal and nothing but supportive of the U.K. government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus and to curb the number of deaths. On Friday, Prince Charles inaugurated — by video link — a field hospital in London that’s been set up at the ExCel convention center.
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