The Queen has urged people to remain united and resolute as she said “better days will return” as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic.
The Queen, who recorded her rare address to the nation and the Commonwealth at Windsor Castle, thanked NHS workers, care workers, and those carrying out essential work outside the home “in support of us all”.
She said: “Every hour of your hard work brings up closer to a return to more normal times.
“I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones.
“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 added: “I hope in the 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 that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.
“That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humoured resolve and of fellow feeling still characterise this country.”
The Monarch acknowledged the financial difficulties faced by many as the economy takes a hit from the consequences of lockdown, as well as mentioning the grief felt by those who have lost loved ones.
And she said there had been stories from across the Commonwealth and around the world of communities coming together “be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbours, or converting businesses to help the relief effort”.
The Queen, 93, also remembered her late sister, Princess Margaret, with whom she made her first address, from Windsor Castle during the Blitz, when they sought to offer comfort to other children.
“It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister. We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety.
“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.
Echoing the words of Dame Vera Lynn, 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.”
Her address, recorded last week, used images of NHS workers getting ready for shifts, as well as children showing their rainbow paintings, a marker Her Majesty said would be a symbol by which this time is remembered.
She said: “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 has only made four other special addresses during her reign - during the Gulf War in 1991, after the death of Princess Diana in 1997, after the death of the Queen Mother in 2002 and during the celebrations for her diamond jubilee in 2012.
On this occasion, it was shown on the Royal Family’s social media at the same time as the broadcast on television and radio.
Her message came as the UK recorded a total death toll of 4,934, as of 5pm on Saturday, with 621 people dying in the 24 hours until that point.
Several medics have died after testing positive for COVID-19, including midwife Lyndsey Coventry.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned outdoor exercise could be banned if people flout the rules of lockdown, as parks appeared to be filling up with people enjoying the warm weekend weather.
Though the Queen’s televised address is rare, she had already given a written statement to the nation, sent out when she arrived at Windsor Castle more than two weeks ago.
At that time, she said: “At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.
“We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals – today and in the coming days, weeks and months.
“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”
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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the UK, her grandson Prince William was the first royal to make a video address. He gave his support to the National Emergencies Trust (NET) who will raise money for organisations helping to tackle the disease.
William and his wife Kate have also been making calls to NHS staff including the colleagues of Amged El-Hawrani who was the first medic to die after contracting COVID-19.
They told staff at Queen’s Hospital, Burton “the whole country is proud of you” in a call which medics said helped boost their spirits.
Prince Charles made a video address earlier this week after coming out of self-isolation having suffered himself with COVID-19.
He urged people to be kind, and praising NHS staff as well as supermarket workers, for keeping the country going.
In a speech as he opened the NHS Nightingale field hospital on Friday he spoke about his own experience with coronavirus, saying he only had a mild case, but acknowledging that many would have it more seriously.