The Queen delivered a historic rallying cry to the British public tonight, urging them to come together in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak in a poignant television address.
Speaking from Windsor Castle, where the 93-year-old monarch is isolating with Prince Philip, she told millions of Brits watching from home: ‘If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.’
Her Majesty’s extraordinary intervention is only the fifth time she has addressed the nation during her 67-year reign and comes as the UK death toll from the pandemic neared 5,000, with 621 new deaths today.
She invoked the spirit of the Second World War, repeating Dame Vera Lynn’s famous words as she promised the nation: ‘We will meet again’.
The monarch shared special praise for the NHS, thanking medical workers for their work and sacrifice in the battle against the virus.
She said: ‘I want to thank everyone on the NHS front line, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles, who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all.
‘I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.’
Brits stuck at home amid the lockdown tuned in to the speech, sharing photos of their entire families huddled in front of the TV to watch Her Majesty.
Britain’s coronavirus death toll has now hit 4,934 – including 29 patients today who did not have any underlying health conditions.
The people who died today were between 33 years and 103 years old, with 29 of them, aged between 35 and 95 years old, having no known underlying health conditions.
The level of infections has risen sharply by almost 60 per cent, from 5,903 to 47,806, dashing hopes the rate of people getting the disease was starting to level out.
Just days ago, Stephen Powis, the medical director of England, said there had been a ‘bit of a plateau’ in the number of people testing positive.
It comes amid concerns a huge backlog of potential patients awaiting their results could mean infections are far higher than is being reported.
If the backlog for processing the tests is too great, the rate of infections will remain at roughly the same level, with the services already pushed to the brink and only able to carry out a certain number of tests per day.
In more positive news, Italy announced plans for ending its lockdown after the coronavirus-ravaged country today recorded its lowest daily death toll for more than two weeks.
Rome recorded another 525 deaths, taking its total to 15,887 – the highest of any country in the world – however, this marked its lowest daily increase since the 427 registered on March 19.
Furthermore, the number of people in intensive care (3,977), fell by 17 since Friday, and the number of cases rose to 128,948 from yesterday’s 124,632, a lower increase than the day before.
Earlier on Sunday Health Minister Roberto Speranza outlined plans for broader testing and boosted health services as part of a package of measures intended to ease Italy’s lockdown, imposed since March 9.
The government is also grappling with the economic devastation caused by the sudden halt to business across the country.
Speranza said he had issued a note outlining five principles around which Rome planned to manage the so-called ‘phase two’ of the emergency, when lockdown restrictions will start to be lifted but before a full return to normal conditions.
He said social distancing would have to remain, with wider use of individual protection devices such as face masks, while local health systems would be strengthened, to allow a faster and more efficient treatment of suspected COVID-19 cases.
Testing and ‘contact tracing’ would be extended, including with the use of smartphone apps and other forms of digital technology while a network of hospitals dedicated solely to treating COVID-19 patients would be set up.
‘Until a vaccine is distributed, we cannot rule out a new wave of the virus,’ Speranza told La Repubblica.
The Queen praises ‘selfless’ NHS staff and key workers battling on the front line during coronavirus crisis
Speaking from Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating, the monarch praised medical workers for their work and sacrifice in the battle against the virus.
‘I want to thank everyone on the NHS front line, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles, who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all,’ she said.
‘I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.
Her Majesty’s extraordinary intervention is only the fifth time she has addressed the nation during her 67-year reign, and was used to deliver a historic rallying cry to the British public to urge them to come together in the fight against the coronavirus.
She gave notice to the national Clap For Carers campaign, bringing a wave of applause to streets across the country each Thursday at 8pm.
‘The moments when the United Kingdom has come together to applaud its care and essential workers will be remembered as an expression of our national spirit; and its symbol will be the rainbows drawn by children.
The Queen went on to talk about the work of laboratories and pharmaceutical firms racing to develop a vaccine.
About 35 companies and academic institutions are believed to be creating such a vaccine, at least four of which already have candidates they have been testing in animals.
The Queen added: ‘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.’
It comes as the first NHS midwife to die after testing positive for coronavirus was named as 54-year-old Lynsay Coventry.
Ms Coventry’s family said their ‘hearts are broken at the loss of our loving, wonderful and caring mum, sister, daughter and grandmother’.
She is the latest NHS worker to die during the epidemic, which has infected 47,806 and killed 4,934.
Tonight it was announced that another nurse, Liz Glanister, from Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool, had died on Friday.
The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, where Ms Coventry worked for 10 years, today confirmed the midwife died on Thursday, April 2.
Ms Coventry passed away at neighbouring Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust after initially self-isolating at home and was not at work before her death.
In a touching tribute, face mask-wearing medics at Prices Alexandra lined the corridors and fell silent to remember their colleague.
With ‘great sadness’, the chief executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust Lance McCarthy, announced her death and paid tribute to her ‘professionalism and commitment’.
In a statement, Ms Coventry’s family said: ‘As a family, our hearts are broken at the loss of our loving, wonderful and caring mum, sister, daughter and grandmother.
‘We each know how much she loved and cherished us. Her love for us all was unfailing and her strength in the way she cared and supported us will fill our memories.
‘What we also know is how proud she was to be an NHS midwife. Lynsay followed her dream and trained as a midwife later in life.
‘It was a role she committed herself to and saw the midwifery team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital as her other family.
‘She was a very well-respected midwife who supported many hundreds of women as they welcomed their babies into the world.’
Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer for England, said: ‘I was deeply moved and saddened to hear about the death of Lynsay Coventry.
‘Lynsay was clearly a highly-regarded midwife whose dedication to women, babies and their families will be remembered and cherished by her own family and her colleagues – my deepest thoughts are with them, her children, grandchildren, parents and siblings.
‘The outpouring of support for NHS staff as we respond to this outbreak has been extraordinary, but the best way for people to do their bit for midwives, nurses, doctors and other NHS staff is to help protect us by following the Government’s advice to stay at home and save lives.’
The nation had already been mourning the deaths of frontline NHS staff who lost their lives after testing positive.
Liz Glanister, a nurse at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool died on Friday after testing positive for coronavirus, it was annonced tonight
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief nurse Dianne Brown said: ‘It is with great sadness that I can confirm that Liz Glanister, a long-serving staff nurse at Aintree University Hospital, sadly passed away at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital on Friday after being tested positive for Covid-19.
‘All our thoughts are with Liz’s family at this time and we offer them our sincere condolences.
‘Liz will be sadly missed by all those who knew and worked with her.’
John Alagos, 23, a nurse from Watford and the youngest British medic believed to have succumbed to the deadly Covid-19 virus, collapsed and died at home after an exhausting 12-hour shift.
Nurse Areema Nasreen, 36, a Walsall staff nurse and mother-of-three, died with coronavirus on Thursday night.
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s chief executive Richard Beeken said she was a ‘very respected member of the team’.
Another nurse, Aimee O’Rourke, 39, passed away at the QEQM Hospital in Margate, Kent, following the surfacing of symptoms two weeks ago.
Dr Habib Zaidi, 76, became ill and died in an intensive care unit on March 25 at Southend Hospital in Essex on Wednesday.
Dr Adil El Tayar, 63, died on March 28 after contracting the virus at the Hereford County Hospital.
Dr Amged El-Hawrani, 55, an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist at Queen’s Hospital Burton, died on March 29.
Nurse Thomas Harvey, 57, of Goodmayes Hospital, London, died after contracting the virus.Dr Alfa Saadu, 68, died after working shifts at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
The memories that moved her: Behind the Queen’s historic broadcast lay the legacy of her years in wartime isolation at Windsor with her sister Margaret. And as ROBERT HARDMAN reveals, it was an experience that shaped her whole life
A hugely popular figure providing much-needed reassurance to those feeling anxious, afraid and missing their loved ones dreadfully. That was the scene at Windsor Castle – back in 1940, at the height of the Blitz.
And here she was again last night, performing an identical role an astonishing 80 years later.
In the same corner of the same castle where 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth delivered her very first public address – to Britain’s child evacuees – the longest-serving monarch in history (94 this month) was making the same point: this won’t be easy but we’ll get there in one piece if we all pull together, for the greater good of us all.
Little wonder that as she concluded with the immortal words of Vera Lynn (103 last month), there was barely a dry eye in the land. ‘We will meet again,’ the Queen declared in words which prompted an instant tearful ovation across cyberspace. Everything about this four-and-a-half minute address seemed to bespeak permanence at a time when our lives have seldom felt more precarious.
There was even something ineffably moving about the closing shot of the daffodils standing to attention at the foot of the ancient Round Tower.
Windsor, like the institution it represents, has been with us through the best part of a thousand Springs. They’ll both be there next year, too.
That the Queen was going to address the nation was never in doubt. Much thought, however, had been given to the timing, both by the Royal Household and by Downing Street.
There had been a suggestion of waiting until one of the holy days of Easter but, instead, she pointedly alluded to those ‘of all faith, and of none’. All were concerned that it should not to be seen as marking a particular turning point in a crisis beyond anyone’s control.
Rather, it should stand alone as an enduring message for the foreseeable future. In that regard, it was pitch-perfect. History, the Queen told us, ‘will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any’.
History will also say that we were extremely fortunate to have, at this moment, a head of state who could articulate exactly what we wanted and needed to hear. T his was an address which was broadcast not just across Britain but across much of the Earth’s surface.
Filmed by BBC Events (the same team who deliver all the big state occasions like Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph), it was transmitted across the Commonwealth and beyond. For this was not merely aimed a home audience but at mankind in general.
Having thanked all those engaged in the ‘front line’ in the UK (a stickler for proper English, she wrote it as two words, not one), the Queen went on to speak of the global dimension to this crisis.
She wanted to draw an important distinction with the Second World War. Then the world was divided. Not now. ‘While we have faced challenges before, this one is different,’ she said. ‘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.’
Similarly, this was a forward-looking message to people of all ages. The thanks were primarily aimed at the younger generations, doing their bit here and now. ‘The pride in who we are is not a part of our past,’ the Queen went on, ‘it defines our present and our future.’
In other words, here was the wartime generation answering the question which the younger generations always ask themselves: would we and could we have done the same? To which the Queen’s answer last night was an emphatic ‘Yes’.
That wartime spirit, however, was integral to the impact of this historic address. ‘It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister,’ she recalled.
This was the only reference to any other member of the family. The Queen might be locked in isolation with the 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh while the Prince of Wales has actually had the coronavirus but the late Princess Margaret was the only one to be singled out last night.
‘We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety,’ the Queen explained. W h a t m a d e t h i s speech especially poignant is the fact that the 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth was addressing the most vulnerable in society in 1940.
Today, of course, those very same people – now in their 80s and 90s – are today confined to their homes. Yet, the Queen acknowledged last night that the ‘painful sense of separation’ is the same.
Perhaps the most enchanting moment of that original broadcast came at the very end. ‘Come on, Margaret,’ said the young Elizabeth, nudging her sister to join in. ‘Goodnight, children. Goodnight, and good luck to you all.’
Once Buckingham Palace was a target for enemy bombers, Windsor was where Princess Elizabeth and her sister would have to spend most of the war. Given fears of a kidnap attempt by enemy paratroopers (a special unit of Coldstream Guards was deployed to prevent it), the Princesses lived in their own enforced version of today’s isolation.
The King and Queen might be travelling all over the country but their daughters were seldom allowed out.
Indeed, the concept of home-schooling, with which so many of us are now grudgingly coming to terms, will be only too familiar to the monarch.
She owes her grasp of constitutional history to Henry Marten, the eccentric schoolmaster who would leave his Eton classroom and travel up to the castle several times a week to address a makeshift classroom containing a solitary girl (whom he still persisted in addressing as ‘gentlemen’).
It was at Windsor that both Princesses alleviated the boredom by staging concerts and pantomimes. It was there, too, later on in the war, that an occasional visitor was always most welcome whenever he could drop by on shore leave – one Prince Philip of Greece.
How could she not be thinking of those days as she sat in Windsor’s White Drawing Room this week preparing to address the country? It’s a delightful, sunny room, one of an inter-connecting set known as the semi-state apartments.
It overlooks the wheel-shaped East Terrace garden laid out years ago by the Duke of Edinburgh. The garden is at its prettiest at this time of year, but it was not on show in last night’s film. Nor were there any photos or portraits as we might normally expect in a Christmas broadcast. The Palace would not even give details of the Queen’s dress and jewellery as normally happens.
This was to be kept as simple as possible in order to direct the focus on to the core messages: stay at home and all will be well.
The White Drawing Room had been chosen because it is particularly large and therefore offered maximum space between the monarch and the one BBC employee allowed in the royal presence, a cameraman wearing a mask and gloves.
The rest of the production were all installed in another room, out of the royal presence. The lights and cameras had actually been installed a day prior to Thursday’s recording so that Palace staff could give them a thorough ‘deep clean’ with disinfectant.
Normally, a broadcast from the White Drawing Room would need to be planned with the Heathrow flightpath in mind. At least no one had to bother about that on this occasion. Her words were very much her own, though they were shown both to the Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales, who has been paying close attention to the Commonwealth aspects of this crisis.
While recovering from Covid-19 last week, he had a long conversation with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during which they discussed the situation in both countries.
The Prince also paid tribute to the debt the NHS owes to so many staff of Indian heritage. The Queen had taken great care to ensure that all aspects of this great ‘common endeavour’ were singled out for praise.
There is, quite simply, no one else in Britain who could have delivered such a message with such unimpeachable authority. The monarch who came to the Throne with Churchill at her side is now the Churchill of our times.
Four years ago, while addressing heads of state at the funeral of Shimon Peres, Barack Obama singled out what he called two ‘giants’ of 20th century leadership: Nelson Mandela and Elizabeth II.
It is safe to say that, as of last night, she has cemented her place in the annals of the 21st century, too.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Rebecca English and Danyal Hussain