Monday 6 April 2020

The Queen pays tribute to a 'generation of Britons as strong as any' who are 'selflessly' uniting in face of coronavirus crisis and self-isolation and says 'we will succeed... and we will meet again'

The Queen urges Britons to pull together to get through coronavirus crisis 
The Queen has urged the nation to come together and remain resolute in the battle against coronavirus in a rare and poignant televised speech to the nation this evening. Speaking from Windsor Castle, where the 93-year-old monarch is isolating with Prince Philip, she said: 'If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.' Her Majesty's extraordinary intervention is only the fifth time she has addressed the nation during her 67 year reign and comes as the UK death toll from the pandemic neared 5,000, with 621 new deaths today. She also invoked Dame Vera Lynn as she promised tens of millions of watching Brits: 'We will meet again'.

In an extraordinary and unprecedented operation, a sole cameraman was permitted to enter the White Drawing Room wearing latex gloves and a surgical mask, standing more than the regulatory two metres away from the elderly monarch.

Aides stressed that the address was 'deeply personal' and it was clear that she had been inspired by the speech her late father, George VI, made at the start of the Second World War when he warned of dark times ahead but said he hoped that the British spirit would prevail.

She said: '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.

'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 the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future. '

The Queen also highlighted government efforts to get people to stay at home in order to minimise the spread of COVID-19, stressing that it is only by pulling together and encouraging everyone to play their part that the country will win this new, insidious war.

'I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones,' she said.

'Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.' 

Like the grandmother and great-grandmother she is, the Queen also noted the nationwide initiative of children drawing rainbow pictures to put up in their windows as a sign of solidarity with the NHS and to inspire positivity, as well as what is fast becoming the Thursday night convention of clapping for the NHS.

She said: 'The moments when the United Kingdom has come together to applaud its care and essential workers will be remembered as an expression of our national spirit; and its symbol will be the rainbows drawn by children. '

It is this spirit of community initiative, the Queen stressed, that will help see the nation through some of its darkest days since the Second World War - whether it be leaving home cooked meals outside the doors of self-isolating neighbours or the hundred of thousands of ordinary people who have signed up to become NHS volunteers in a bid to ease the pressure on our national healthcare system.

'Across the Commonwealth and around the world, we have seen heart-warming stories of people coming together to help others, be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbours, or converting businesses to help the relief effort,' she says.

Referencing her first ever public broadcast with her sister, Princess Margaret, in 1940, she conjured up the image of young children being sent away as evacuees by their distraught parents in order to protect them from the worst dangers of the conflict and likens it to the enforced separation many families are now facing.

But she says now, as then, 'we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do' and we should view our time in 'lockdown' as a chance for self-healing.

She said: '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.

'And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation.'

The Queen concludes by stressing that Britain is not alone in facing such an indiscriminate and unprecedented threat, but that unity will help the world to fight a common enemy.

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