Queen Elizabeth II addresses UK, calls for resilience during Covid-19 crisis

PTI

World, Europe

The message was recorded in the White Drawing Room at her sprawling castle in Berkshire.

File photo of Queen Elizabeth. (AP)

London: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II made a special reference to heart-warming stories coming out of different parts of the world, including the Commonwealth, during her historic address as a rallying call for resilience during the coronavirus pandemic which has killed nearly 70,000 people worldwide.

The 93-year-old monarch, who is also Head of the 54-nation Commonwealth, referred to the very British “attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling” as she made a wider global callout to say that in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to the COVID-19 challenge.

"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 said during her speech, pre-recorded at Windsor Castle and broadcast on television and radio on Sunday evening.

“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,” she said.

Besides her annual Christmas message, such broadcasts are rare and the Queen went down memory lane as she recalled the very first broadcast of the kind she had made as a young princess at the time in 1940 alongside her sister, Princess Margaret, during World War II.

"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.

“While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, 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 said.

A key focus of her message was to express gratitude to the medical workers and carers on the frontlines of the pandemic in hospital wards and clinics. She also reiterated the UK government's message of staying at home and maintaining strict social distancing to ease some of the pressure on the UK's National Health Service (NHS) as hospital admissions and death toll from COVID-19 continue to mount.

She ended on a hopeful note, looking into the future: “Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.

“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.”

The message was recorded in the White Drawing Room at her sprawling castle in Berkshire, south-east England, by a single BBC cameraperson dressed in a full-body protective suit as other technicians remained at a considerable distance in a separate room to comply with medical advice.

Her “deeply personal” words were said to be chosen to echo those of her father, King George VI, during World War II, aimed at bringing the country together in a time of crisis.

Downing Street said Sunday's message was intended as a means to “lift the nation's spirits” amid the strict lockdown rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus and prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was admitted to hospital soon after the broadcast with persistent symptoms of COVID-19, has been conducting his weekly audiences with the Queen over the telephone.

“The Prime Minister and Her Majesty the Queen have been speaking regularly and No. 10 and Buckingham Palace have been speaking throughout about Her Majesty the Queen's address,” a Downing Street official said.

“The Queen is the best judge of when to talk to the country and we absolutely agree that now is the right time. We have asked the country to make huge sacrifices and life is very difficult at the moment for a great number of people. Hearing from Her Majesty at this time is an important way of helping to lift the nation's spirits,” the official said.

More than 1.2 million cases and nearly 70,000 deaths, including about 5,000 in the UK, have been reported in 190 countries and territories around the world since the coronavirus first emerged in China in December last year

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