In a historic television address to the nation and Commonwealth, the 93-year-old monarch will appeal to and celebrate the traditional British values of self-discipline, quiet resolve, and understanding for others. It comes as the Government announced on Saturday that a five-year-old child with underlying health conditions is among 708 people who have died from Covid-19 – the highest daily total so far. It brings the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in the UK 4,313.
The Queen will rally the nation by challenging all of us to act in a way that will ensure those who follow us will say this generation was as strong as any of our forefathers.
“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,” she will say in the broadcast recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.
“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.”
In a faint echo of Sir Winston Churchill’s “This was their finest hour”, speech, she will appeal to her fellow countrymen’s sense of history in her typically understated way.
Speaking about how the nation has reacted to the pandemic, she will say: “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.
The Queen will address the nation on Sunday night
“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-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country.”
The Queen, who will be 94 on April 21, will thank those on the NHS front line, care workers and those carrying out essential roles.
She will also recognise the pain already felt by many families and thank those who are following the official guidance to stay at home to protect the vulnerable.
Although she has been waiting for her ministers to advise her on the best moment to make an intervention during the crisis, her broadcast is a deeply personal message reflecting her experience in other difficult times, according to royal sources.
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And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.
Her 8pm televised address, which comes at the request of the Government, is only the fourth she has made in her 68-year reign in response to troubled times. She spoke about the first Gulf War in 1991, ahead of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, and after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002.
She also marked her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 with a televised address but that, like her Christmas broadcasts, was long planned.
In accordance with Government advice for the over-70s, she and Prince Philip, 98, have been staying in at Windsor Castle during Britain’s unprecedented lockdown to prevent the Covid-19 virus spreading.
The broadcast was recorded by BBC Studios Events after advice from the Royal Medical Household on how to limit any risk to the Queen or others.
The Queen will channel Churchill in a stirring message
The White Drawing Room was chosen because it was big enough to allow sufficient distance between the Queen and the sole cameraman who was the only other person in the room in personal protective equipment.
All other technical staff were in another room connected by speakers and other equipment.
The broadcast is four minutes 30 seconds long and the Queen speaks for four minutes and 15 seconds.
Although the Queen’s deliberately understated style lacks Churchill’s rhetorical flourishes, her appeal to history evoked comparisons with the wartime prime minister’s speech in the House of Commons on June 18, 1940.
As the Germans came close to victory in the Battle of France following the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, Churchill braced his country for the coming Battle of Britain.
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He concluded his speech with the immortal words: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”
Last week Prince Charles offered his own message of hope to the country when he recorded a video after coming out of isolation following a positive test for Covid-19.
Charles, 71, said: “As a nation, we are faced by a profoundly challenging situation, which we are only too aware threatens the livelihoods, businesses and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens.
“None of us can say when this will end, but end it will. Until it does, let us all try and live with hope and, with faith in ourselves and each other, look forward to better times to come.”
The Queen moved to Windsor Castle on March 19, a week earlier than planned for the Easter period, after one of her staff at Buckingham Palace went down with the virus.
All royal engagements at the moment are being conducted over the phone or by video conference.
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The palace has declined to “give a running commentary” on the health of the monarch but has previously insisted she remained in good health and was following all appropriate advice.
Her address will be broadcast on TV, radio and shown on the Royal Family’s social media channels. It will also be broadcast in some Commonwealth countries.
A Downing Street spokesperson said now was the right time for the Queen’s message.
They said: “We’re two weeks into some very restrictive measures on the public. We’re asking people to stay indoors, to not go about their life in the usual way.
“Sadly, we have also seen a significant number of deaths over the course of the past week.
“We’ve always said that Her Majesty would be the best judge of the right time to speak to the nation but we agree that now is that moment.”
* On Friday, the Pope used a video message to criticise those exploiting the pandemic.
He said: “In these painful times, people think of doing many good things.
“But others think of how they can take advantage of the situation to profit personally from it.”