Thanking NHS workers, carers and all those on the Covid-19 frontline, Her Majesty also paid tribute to families staying at home to spare others of “the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones”.
Her message came just an hour before Downing Street confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been admitted to hospital for tests as he battles the effects of coronavirus.
A deeply personal speech – just the fifth such address to the nation during her record-breaking 68-year reign – the Queen alluded to the traumatic days that inevitably lie ahead before the country can return to any semblance of normality.
Echoing forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn’s “we’ll meet again” rallying cry during the Second World War, she said: “We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.
But she used a deeply personal speech – just the fourth such address to the nation during her record-breaking 68-year reign – to allude to the traumatic days that inevitably lie ahead before the country can return to any semblance of normality.
Echoing Forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘we’ll meet again’ rallying cry during the Second World War, the Queen said: “We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.
“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.”
Poignantly, the speech was recorded in a drawing room at Windsor Castle – the historic setting where the young Princess Elizabeth, as a teenager and wartime evacuee, made her very first Royal address 80 years ago as the Battle of Britain began.
Every possible medical precaution was taken in the recording of speech to minimise the risk of infection to the Queen – just one cameraman, in full protective clothing, was present.
The broadcast featured footage of NHS frontline staff, workers making deliveries and military personnel helping to construct the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in east London.
People taking part in the Clap for Carers tribute were also shown, along with rainbow pictures drawn by children in honour of the carers – these were hailed by the Queen as “an expression of our national spirit” – and a black and white image of the Queen’s first radio broadcast in 1940 alongside the late Princess Margaret.
And, as anticipated, the 93-year-old monarch used this landmark address to urge the whole country to obey social distancing protocols amid growing speculation that the UK lockdown could be extended prior to Easter.
“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.
“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.”
Among the first to pay tribute to the Queen was the Archbishop of York who said: “Like all her Christmas broadcasts, she spoke from a heart moulded by her faith in Christ, her love and commitment to her people and the Commonwealth.
“Articulating what many in our Four Nations and in the world want to say: ‘Together, united in the common duty of our common endeavour, will overcome Covid-19’. Thank you.”
Other political and religious leaders also endorsed the tone of the Queen’s speech.
Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said the address underlined the magnitude of the crisis. “It will require a national effort, made by every single one of us, to unfailingly do our duty if we are to pass this test. We cannot afford to fail,” he added.
“But the worst of times has brought the very best out of people and The Queen has rightly recognised the resilience, bravery and decency shown in response. The endless stories of kindness across our region and nation give me heart that we will overcome the worst.
“There will be difficult days ahead, but I know we have the resilience and courage to pull through. If we do, history will remember the heroism of our NHS and key workers, and how we all came together to defeat this cruel virus.”
Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, added: “Quiet and thoughtful moral authority. Important perspective: to use our imagination to look back from the future and ask if we will be proud of our behaviour now. Excellent.”
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