Queen Elizabeth Makes Rare Public Address Amid Coronavirus Crisis

This is only the fifth time the monarch has given a special address to the nation.

Queen Elizabeth addressed the U.K. and the Commonwealth on Sunday in an effort to encourage the public and provide a sense of reassurance amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During the pre-recorded address from Windsor Castle, Her Majesty praised those working on the front lines to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. She also thanked those who are staying home to “protect the vulnerable.”

“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.”

She also addressed how the nation has responded, saying: “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterize this country.”

The four-and-a-half minute speech featured footage of front-line crisis workers, as well as people cheering on health care workers.

The queen praised people across the Commonwealth for their efforts and at one point, even got personal ― harkening back to a wartime speech she gave with her late sister, Princess Margaret.

“It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister. 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.”

Royal Family/Twitter

Before signing off and sending her thanks and “warmest good wishes,” the queen ended with a message of hope: “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 address took place in the castle’s White Drawing Room, which was specifically chosen to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, according to The Guardian. Only the queen, who is 93, and a single BBC cameraman were present in the room.

This is reportedly only the fifth time the queen has spoken to the nation outside of her annual Christmas address. The previous times were in 1991, in regard to the Gulf War; in 1997, before Princess Diana’s funeral; in 2002, before the Queen Mother’s funeral; and in 2012, to mark her diamond jubilee.

Queen Elizabeth in November 2015.
Queen Elizabeth in November 2015.
Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Buckingham Palace previously announced that because of the coronavirus, the queen would be rescheduling and canceling upcoming events, including Trooping the Colour in June.

She is currently staying at Windsor Castle with Prince Philip for an indefinite period of time. A statement on the royal family’s website said that the queen was, of course, still working and having her audience with the prime minister by phone.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last month that he tested positive for coronavirus and was self-isolating at his official residence in Downing Street.

Prince Charles also tested positive for coronavirus, but is now out of self-isolation after experiencing “mild symptoms.”

“Having recently gone through the process of contracting this coronavirus, luckily with relatively mild symptoms, I now find myself on the other side of the illness, but still in no less a state of social distance and general isolation,” the Prince of Wales, 71, said in a clip released by Clarence House on Wednesday.

“At such an unprecedented and anxious time in all our lives, my wife and I are thinking particularly of all those who have lost their loved ones in such very difficult and abnormal circumstances and of those having to endure sickness, isolation and loneliness,” he said, adding that their hearts “go out to all those older people throughout this country who are now experiencing great difficulty.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles attend the Commonwealth Day reception on March 9.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles attend the Commonwealth Day reception on March 9.
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Prince William and Kate Middleton are also doing their part to thank health care workers and provide messages of encouragement.

The couple also shared a cute video of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis participating in the Clap For Our Carers campaign, to thank all the “doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by #COVID19.”

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