Queen Elizabeth Addresses COVID-19 In Rare Public Speech

"We will overcome it," the Queen said of the ongoing pandemic.

Queen Elizabeth delivered a hopeful message about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in a speech on Sunday. “If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” she told the British people and the Commonwealth countries in a rare public address.

She started by addressing the difficult circumstances of the last month, referring to the virus and the social and economic chaos it’s caused as “a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.”

Her speech thanked health-care workers and other people working in essential roles for “selflessly” devoting themselves to the service of others. “What you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times,” she said.

The Queen also thanked people who are observing social distancing rules by staying home, “thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones.”

Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation and the Commonwealth from Windsor Castle in a video broadcast on Sunday.
Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation and the Commonwealth from Windsor Castle in a video broadcast on Sunday.

She directly addressed Canada and the other commonwealth countries when she talked about the kindnesses that have sprung up in many communities affected by the virus.

“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 nearly seven decades on the throne, the Queen has only made public speeches like this one on a few occasions. One of the most famous was a radio speech she made with her younger sister Princess Margaret during the Second World War, which she mentioned in Sunday’s speech.

“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,” she said.

“Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones,” she said. “But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do.”

14-year-old Princess Elizabeth, right, with her sister Princess Margaret, during a radio broadcast addressing the children of England during the Second World War, on Oct. 13, 1940.
14-year-old Princess Elizabeth, right, with her sister Princess Margaret, during a radio broadcast addressing the children of England during the Second World War, on Oct. 13, 1940.

The Queen acknowledged that the efforts to combat the virus will likely take time, noting that “we may have more still to endure.” But overall, she took an optimistic tone.

“Better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

Her choice of words brought to mind Vera Lynn’s 1939 song “We’ll Meet Again,” which became a big hit during the Second World War.

The U.K. has been hit hard by COVID-19, with 4,934 deaths as of Sunday afternoon. Both The Queen’s son and direct heir, Prince Charles, and the country’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, have contracted the virus.

Several weeks ago, a similar message to the one delivered in Sunday’s seepch was posted to the Royal Family’s social media accounts.

“At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal,” the post read. “You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

Other members of the Royal Family have also used their platform to deliver messages about the pandemic. The Queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton have met with medical staff and spoken with frontline workers, and have posted a video of their three children joining national efforts to clap as a way to show thanks for medical professionals. And before they left Instagram, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle posted World Health Organization recommendations.