Queen will address the nation on coronavirus crisis in TV broadcast

Queen will address the nation on coronavirus crisis after recording special broadcast at Windsor Castle that will be aired at 8pm on Sunday

The Queen will address the nation in a special televised broadcast about the coronavirus outbreak from Windsor Castle which will air this Sunday at 8pm.

Buckingham Palace announced that the broadcast to ‘the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth’ by the 93-year-old monarch has already been recorded.

Expectation has been growing about when the head of state would make a public statement about the unprecedented events that have put the country into lockdown.

The Queen speaks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle on March 25 last week

The @RoyalFamily account announced the broadcast on Twitter shortly after 2pm today

And royal aides have been speaking to Downing Street for a fortnight about Her Majesty giving a morale-boosting television address to the UK amid the pandemic.

Sources had stressed last week that the country was at the start of a very long and difficult process and that the timing of the address ‘needs to be right’.

As well as on television and radio, The Queen’s address this weekend will be shown on the royal social media channels, including @RoyalFamily on Twitter.  

It will be only the fourth special address of her 68-year reign. Her Majesty gave her last speech in 2002 on the eve of her mother’s funeral.

The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace for Windsor Castle on March 19 to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic

(From left) The Queen, Charles, Camilla, William and Kate at Westminster Abbey on March 9

Her previous special addresses to the nation were in 1997 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and 1991, when she spoke about the Gulf War. 

The Queen is highly experienced at public speaking and records her Christmas message in just one take, reading her script from a monitor. 

But her message during the coronavirus pandemic had the added technical challenge of taking place while the UK is in lockdown. 

The Queen has left Buckingham Palace and is staying with the 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh with a reduced household at Windsor Castle for their safety. 

A royal spokesman said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen has recorded a special broadcast to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. 

‘The televised address will be broadcast at 8pm on Sunday April 5, 2020. The address was recorded at Windsor Castle.’

Yesterday, the Queen thanked Armed Forces personnel working tirelessly to build London’s new NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel convention centre.

The monarchy’s Twitter account paid tribute to the military who have been on 15-hour shifts to transform the site into a 4,000-bed hospital for coronavirus patients.

How a televised message from the Queen is a rare occurrence 

The Queen’s televised address to the nation will be only the fourth of her 68-year-reign during times of national crisis and grief.

While she broadcasts a recorded message each year on Christmas Day, special addresses from the monarch in troubled periods are rare.

There have been three previous speeches broadcast – after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, ahead of Diana, Princess of Wales’s funeral in 1997 and about the First Gulf War in 1991.

Amid celebratory times, the Queen made a televised address to mark her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

– The Queen Mother’s death

Eighteen years ago on the eve of her mother’s funeral, the Queen thanked the country for their support and the ‘love and honour’ shown to the Queen Mother. Dressed in black, the Queen added: ‘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.’

The Queen made a special televised broadcast after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002

– Diana, Princess of Wales’s death

The Queen also spoke to the nation in 1997 on the eve of the funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana’s sudden death in a Paris car crash triggered one of the monarchy’s worst crises in modern history.

When the Queen initially remained at Balmoral to comfort her grandsons Princes William and Harry, the newspaper headlines screamed: ‘Show us you care’ and ‘Where is our Queen? and ‘Where is her flag?’. 

A sea of flowers was left at the gates of Diana’s London home, Kensington Palace, by shocked members of the public, but the flag pole at Buckingham Palace remained bare, as was the protocol, because the Queen was away in Scotland. A rare palace statement was released telling of the royal family’s hurt at suggestions they were untouched by the tragedy.

The Queen speaks to the nation in 1997 about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales

The Queen had been due to pre-record her message, but in an unprecedented move for a royal broadcast of this kind, it was decided she should deliver it live. Royal author Robert Lacey wrote of how it was a high-risk strategy, but an aide told him: ‘It was a psychological thing. (The Queen) goes flat when she know’s it being recorded. When she knows it’s real, she rises to the challenge.’

Speaking from Buckingham Palace and against a backdrop of a view of the crowds of mourners outside, the Queen, dressed in black, said she was speaking from her heart as both the nation’s Queen and as a grandmother. She paid tribute to Diana as ‘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.’

– The Gulf War

In February 1991, the Queen recorded a brief televised address to the nation during the Gulf War. It came as the allied land offensive began against Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait. The Queen called on people to unite and pray that the Armed Forces’ success would be as ‘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’. 

The Queen recorded a brief televised address to the nation during the Gulf War in 1991

– Diamond Jubilee address

The monarch also made a televised address when she thanked the nation for the festivities commemorating her Diamond Jubilee, describing it as ‘a humbling experience’. As the special bank holiday came to a close in June 2012, the monarch said in the two-minute pre-recorded televised message that she was deeply touched, adding: ‘I hope that memories of all this year’s happy events will brighten our lives for many years to come.’

– Cold War preparations

In 1983, Whitehall officials drew up a script for the Queen to read during the Cold War if Britain faced annihilation at the hands of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union. Records released under the 30-year-old rule showed 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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