Queen Elizabeth II praised healthcare workers, thanked Coronavirus patients for self-isolating, and promised residents that better days were ahead in a rare special address delivered on Sunday.
The Queen spoke publicly for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic caused shutdowns in international travel and forced the cancellation of millions of public events across the world as governments introduced self-isolation measures to stop the virus’ spread.
She opened her roughly four-minute speech by calling the pandemic “an increasingly challenging time” that has brought grief and financial hardship to many. She remained positive, however, telling viewers that international cooperation, advances in science, and “our instinctive compassion to heal” would halt the outbreak.
“We will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us,” she said. “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 Queen said this speech reminded her of the first one she made in 1940, when she delivered a radio address to the children of Great Britain with the help of her younger sister, Princess Margaret. At that time, children were being separated from their parents and sent to live in commonwealth countries like Canada during the Second World War.
She said the decision was the right one, even though it caused a “painful sense of separation.” She noted that today’s social isolation policies are causing similar pains, but urged residents to keep following them despite the discomfort.
“Now, as then, we know deep down that it is the right thing to do,” she explained.
The Queen said she’s seen many heartwarming stories from across the Commonwealth and around the world of people coming together to help others, whether delivering food parcels and medicine, converting businesses to aid the relief effort, or just checking in on neighbours.
She praised healthcare workers in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) for their efforts, saying every hour of their hard work brought the country closer and closer to normal times. She also thanked residents who choose to self-isolate, telling viewers those efforts will help protect vulnerable people.
“Together, we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” she said. “I hope in 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 a fellow feeling still characterize this country.”