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Queen Elizabeth II Addresses U.K. In Rare Televised Speech About The Coronavirus

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives to attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9. In a rare address to the nation on Sunday, the queen plans to exhort Britons to rise to the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kirsty Wigglesworth

Updated at 3:39 p.m. ET

Queen Elizabeth II addressed the United Kingdom on Sunday in a rare speech, urging self-discipline and resolve in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The queen, 93, acknowledged the grief and financial pain that Britons are enduring while also thanking health workers for their service and ordinary people for staying home.

"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 the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge," she said, "and those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any."

The line is a clear reference to Britain's World War II generation, which endured the Blitz and battled the Nazis to help free Europe from fascism. The queen said she was reminded of her first broadcast in 1940, when at age 14 she spoke to children who had been evacuated from their homes for their own safety.

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

A single cameraman wearing protective gear filmed video of the queen's speech at her weekend home, Windsor Castle, outside London, while all other technical staff remained in another room, according to the BBC.

The queen ended her remarks by saying the country 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. But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all."

The U.K. is now on a soft lockdown. People are allowed to venture out of their homes only for grocery shopping, medical reasons and exercise. But the government has warned that outdoor exercise could be banned if people continue to crowd parks and fail to socially distance on this sunny weekend when the temperatures in Greater London have risen to 70 degrees.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, while Carrie Symonds — his pregnant fiancée — has COVID-19 symptoms but says she's now doing better.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.
James Doubek is an associate editor and reporter for NPR. He frequently covers breaking news for NPR.org and NPR's hourly newscast. In 2018, he reported feature stories for NPR's business desk on topics including electric scooters, cryptocurrency, and small business owners who lost out when Amazon made a deal with Apple.
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