Her Majesty has not made a similar special speech to the nation since 2002, when the Queen Mother died. Aside from her annual Christmas speeches, she has addressed the nation just two other times: In 1997, after the death of Princess Diana, and in 1991, when she spoke about the United Kingdom's involvement in the Gulf War.
"It is a question of when, not if [the speech will happen]," a source told The Sunday Times. "The value of an address by the Queen is that it is so rare – it's a case of when is the optimum time to do it. The Queen wants to get it right."
The 93-year-old monarch, who was moved to Windsor Castle with Prince Philip to begin an early Easter break on March 19, acknowledged the anxiety and difficulties many people have faced not just due to infections, but also with regard to the future. Many of us worldwide have begun social distancing, self-isolation, quarantine and in some cases, are in lockdowns in an effort to defeat COVID-19 in what many are calling an unprecedented moment. On March 23, the U.K. government announced its own lockdown.
"We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them," the Queen said.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 19, 2020
"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."
Acknowledging science, accurate information, a collaborative effort and the world's medical systems will defeat the virus, the Queen then thanked front-line health care workers, those researching COVID-19 and experts striving to produce a vaccine. She also encouraged those reading her words to do their part to maintain social distance, isolate and stay in lockdown if they're ordered as a way to help those working to destroy this public health threat.
"Many of us will have to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe," she said in closing. "I am certain that we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part."
As of this writing, the World Health Organization says there have been nearly 335,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 189 countries, areas or territories. More than 5,600 of those have been in the United Kingdom. The illness has caused more than 13,600 deaths worldwide.