Queen's message: Four other times the Queen gave a special address

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

The Queen has given a special televised address for only the fifth time in her reign, as the world tackles the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Her Majesty gave a televised broadcast on Sunday evening, addressing the UK and the Commonwealth as she sought to give comfort to those grieving and praise those working for the NHS and other essential services.

It is rare for the Queen to deliver a televised broadcast outside of her annual Christmas messages. She has done so on only four other occasions – and only one of those was a time of celebration.

Read more: Queen says 'better days will return' as she addresses nation and Commonwealth

1991 – The Gulf War

In February 1991, the Queen recorded a message as the allied land offensive began against Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait.

She urged people to unite and to pray the offensive would be “swift as it is certain”, and that it would be “achieved with as small a cost in human life and suffering as possible”.

She expressed her hopes for a “just and lasting peace”.

She also said British people should be rightly proud of their armed forces, including their conduct in the war up to that point.

The war ended a few days after her broadcast was made.

1997 – Princess Diana’s death

The Queen faced a surprising backlash in the days after Princess Diana’s death, as Britons felt she lacked sympathy.

Diana and Charles had been separated for some time by the time of the princess’s death, which perhaps led to a difficult balance in Buckingham Palace’s reaction.

The flag at the palace was not raised, because Her Majesty was not there – she stayed at Balmoral to comfort her grandsons William and Harry.

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But the newspaper headlines read “Show us you care”, “Where is our Queen? and “Where is her flag?”.

Flowers were left at Kensington Palace, Diana’s London home, and in another rare move, a statement was released indicating the hurt felt by the Royal Family at the suggestion they were untouched by the tragedy.

The Queen was due to pre-record the speech, but she ended up giving it live.

She said Diana was “an exceptional and gifted human being”, adding: “In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.”

Her backdrop was the crowds outside Buckingham Palace, and she said she spoke “as your Queen and as a grandmother”.

2002 – The Queen Mother’s death

One of her addresses came the night before her mother’s funeral in 2002.

The Queen dressed in black for the broadcast, as she thanked the nation for their support during their grief.

She said: “I count myself fortunate that my mother was blessed with a long and happy life.

“She had an infectious zest for living, and this remained with her until the very end.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Queen's speech to the nation watched by 24 million

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon’s life wasturned upside down when her brother-in-law abdicated, leaving her husband as King.

Despite ending up with a different role to the one she expected at marriage, the Queen Mother carried out royal duties throughout her life and was loved by the British public.

2012 – Diamond Jubilee celebrations

Eight years ago, the Queen gave an address in happier circumstances. During the celebrations for her Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years on the throne, she thanked those who organised the events.

Read more: Queen's historic coronavirus speech prompts outpouring of praise for monarch

She said they had been a “humbling experience” and hoped they would “brighten our lives for many years to come”.

She said: “It has touched me deeply to see so many thousands of families, neighbours and friends celebrating together in such a happy atmosphere.”

Events to mark her diamond jubilee included the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, with 1,000 boats from across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world. She travelled with her husband on the Royal Barge, which was the centrepiece of the occasion.

And the time she didn’t...

A speech was written for the Queen in 1983 during the Cold War. She would have recorded it if Britain faced annihilation at the hands of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union.

Records released under the 30-year-old rule showed that the monarch, in the event of World War Three, would have urged her “brave country” to stand firm as it faced up to the “madness of war”, but the speech was never recorded.

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