Queen Elizabeth II made a historic televised address on Sunday — invoking her nation’s war-time spirit in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,’’ the 93-year-old UK monarch said in only the fifth time she has addressed her subjects outside of her annual Christmas speech.
“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.”
The Queen, dressed in green, made a direct comparison to her war-time address in 1940 as then-Princess Elizabeth comforting families devastated early in World War II.
“It reminds me of the very broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister,” she said, with a black and white photograph showing her at the time with 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,” she said of strict lockdowns enforced in the UK.
“But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do.”
She maintained that — just like with a war — her nation must “remain united and resolute then we will overcome it.”
“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she said of the fight against the contagion.
“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,” she said in the address that aired at 3 p.m. New York time.
“The pride in who we are is not part of our past. It defines our present and our future.”
She stressed that the war on the pandemic was “different” in that it was not one the UK was facing alone.
“This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed — and that success will belong to every one of us,” she insisted.
She said that “although self-isolating may be hard” it also “presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect in prayer or meditation.”
Children in London watching the Queen’s address on television.REUTERS/Simon Dawson
The Queen made another nod to the war by referring to one of its most famous songs, “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn.
“We should take comfort that while we may 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.
“But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all,” she said.
As well as thanking healthcare workers and those “who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all,” she also thanked those “who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the more vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones.”
One government source told The Times of London that ministers hoped the Queen’s words would be their “trump card” in persuading wavering citizens to stick to government guidelines.
Sunday’s address had been pre-recorded at Windsor Castle, where the monarch is staying with her husband Prince Philip, 98.
Just one cameraman — wearing protective gear — was allowed in with her to film in the White Drawing Room, chosen because it is big enough to allow them to have remained far apart. The rest of the crew remained in an adjoining room, listening on speakers.
Her own son, the UK’s 71-year-old heir to the throne, Prince Charles, is one of 48,406 confirmed cases in the UK as of Sunday, with close to 5,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The queen usually only broadcasts to the nation with her annual televised Christmas Day message.
The last time she broke that tradition was in 2012 following celebrations to mark her 60th year as queen. That came a decade after the preceding broadcast, which followed the death of her mother, the Queen Mother, in 2002 when she thanked Britons for their messages of condolence.
She also gave an address at the start of the Gulf War in 1991, and most famously, delivered a somber live broadcast after the death of her daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, in a Paris car crash in 1997 amid a national outpouring of grief and criticism of the royal family’s response.
With Post wires