More than 22million people watched the Queen’s ‘inspirational’ and ‘galvanising’ coronavirus TV address to the nation last night, it was revealed today.
Her Majesty’s highly personal speech evoked Britain’s stoicism during the Second World War with viewers admitting they had a lump in their throat and tears in their eyes as she echoed Dame Vera Lynn’s words: ‘We will meet again’.
Royal commentators said her ‘deeply moving’ words will have inspired confidence and boosted morale in an intervention being hailed as the ‘finest moment’ in her 68-year reign.
Dickie Arbiter, who was the Queen’s press secretary from 1988 until 2000, told MailOnline: ‘The Queen’s words will have galvanised and moved millions of people watching at home.
‘This was a deeply personal speech – this was her message, in her own words. She was speaking to the nation as the head of state but also as a mother, whose eldest son Charles has been fighting off the virus, and as a wife who is self-isolating with her husband Prince Philip. They are both well into their nineties and in the most vulnerable age group. Her speech was powerful because we are all going through the same thing’.
Royal commentator and author Penny Junor said the Queen had shown the nation she is ‘with us in this dark hour’ and said: ‘I thought it was superb. In the Second World War during the Blitz, the King and Queen chose to stay in London and stood shoulder to shoulder with the British public. There’s the same feeling of solidarity here. It’s reassuring. It’s calm, and the wisdom it shows is very inspiring.’
The Queen addressed the nation last night, in a historic speech amid the coronavirus outbreak, and was watched by at least 22million people
Peter, Kate Beresford and family members in the garden watch Her Majesty during a televised address to the nation at their home
A young girl in Basingstoke, Hampshire, watches Queen Elizabeth II deliver her address to the nation and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus epidemi
The Queen evoked Britain’s stoicism during the Second World War and mentioned her 1940 radio address with Princess Margaret (left) to Britain’s evacuees
The Queen’s Speech: Her Majesty’s coronavirus address in full
I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.
I want to thank everyone on the NHS front line, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles, who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all. I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us 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.
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 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 pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.
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.
Across the Commonwealth and around the world, we have seen heart-warming stories of people coming together to help others, be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbours, or converting businesses to help the relief effort.
And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation.
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.
While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We 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.
Today it was revealed that 22million people – three out of four people watching TV last night – tuned in at 8pm last night, comfortably putting it in the top 20 most watched special broadcasts of all time in Britain.
Speaking from Windsor Castle, the monarch urged the country to pull together to fight coronavirus, saying: ‘If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it’ and that ‘better days will come again’.
And she echoed Second World War heroine Dame Vera Lynn, promising anguished families separated by the crisis: ‘We will meet again’, a moment many among the viewers said reduced them to tears as millions stay at home missing their family, friends and loved-ones.
Royal author Phil Dampier said ‘I thought the Queen’s address was just perfect. As always she said so much using so few words, a lesson to many politicians and pundits.
‘She never makes a speech more than eight minutes long and this was only half that.
‘But the less is more approach works as the whole world hangs on her every word. It was broadcast in France the US and dozens of countries not in the Commonwealth.
‘She is probably the most famous and admired woman in the world and because of her experience everyone listens to her.
‘Her pay off line, ‘We will meet again’ probably brought a lump to many throats. If anyone else had invoked Vera Lynn it would have sounded cheesy and insincere, but with the Queen it sounded just the right note.
‘I’m sure NHS staff, shop workers and many others would have found comfort in her words’.
Prince Charles’ biographer Tom Bower said: ‘Our wonderful monarch struck the right tone with a remarkably well crafted message, delivered with enviable professionalism. In her appeal to the best of Britain’s enduring values, the country is fortunate that the Queen has always lived by those same principles’.
Her historic – and emotional – intervention is only the fourth time she has addressed the nation in a TV broadcast at a time of national importance.
Her first was at the time of the first Gulf War in 1991, then on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 and finally when her mother, the Queen Mother died, in April 2002. In happier times, at the time of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, she also gave a short TV speech.
The Queen’s address to the nation to boost morale during the coronavirus crisis has been hailed as her ‘finest moment’.
Evidently touching the hearts of many, a tidal wave of support for the monarch flooded social media, with much of the country seemingly re-energised to pull together and beat back coronavirus.
The Queen’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie praised her speech, posting on Instagram: ‘Thank you for your words, they bring us together and unite us in our effort to overcome.’
Eugenie’s mother Sarah, Duchess of York – the ex-wife of the Queen’s son the Duke of York, said: ‘Her Majesty’s words touched my core and inspired us to never give up.’
Royal author Phil Dampier said ‘I thought the Queen’s address was just perfect. As always she said so much using so few words, a lesson to many politicians and pundits’ while commentator penny Junor said the Queen had shown the nation she is ‘with us in this dark hour’
Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, who has been scathing of the government’s handling of the health emergency, heaped praise on Her Majesty.
How many Britons watched the Queen’s TV address last night?
BBC One – 14,059,000 people (47.5% share)
ITV – 5,330,000 people (18% share)
Channel 4 – 1,880,000 people (6.9% share)
Channel 5 – 590,000 people (2% share)
TOTAL – 21,859,000 people (74.4% share)
He tweeted: ‘A magnificent speech from a magnificent lady. Thank you, Your Majesty – this was your finest moment as our Monarch.’
His fellow Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid said: ‘Wonderful address by the Queen – exactly the words we needed. We’ll meet again.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock wrote: ‘A striking and important message from Her Majesty the Queen on coming together and standing with all nations to tackle #coronavirus. Such strength to draw on – a vital reminder that we will succeed and better days will return.’
‘The Queen speaks for the whole country and our determination to defeat the coronavirus,’ new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss described the message as ‘inspiring’, while Nadine Dorries MP – who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in March – said it was ‘perfect’ and adding: ‘We really are all #InThisTogether.’
The ten most watched TV shows in British history
1. World Cup Final: England v West Germany, 1966 – 32.2m
2. Funeral of Diana, 1997 – 32.1m
3. Royal Family documentary, 1969 – 30.7m
4. Apollo 13 splashdown, 1970 – 28.6m
5. FA Cup Final replay, 1970 – 28.49m
6. Charles and Diana’s wedding, 1981 – 28.4m
7. Anne and Mark Phillips’s wedding, 1973 – 27.6m
8. Boris Johnson’s coronavirus statement, 2020 – 27.1m
9. Olympics closing ceremony, 2012 – 24.5m
10. Olympics opening ceremony, 2012 – 24.2m
Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the speech had surprised her.
‘The Queen’s own quiet resolution on how we will see the other side of this and ‘meet again’ was reassuring, I thought,’ she wrote.
‘Didn’t know I needed to hear that, but it turns out I did.’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised the Queen’s recognition of front-line workers during the pandemic.
‘Great to see our hardworking heroes, working flat-out on the frontline, front & centre of the #QueensSpeech,’ he wrote.
But it wasn’t just the political sphere that reacted positively to the monarch’s words.
‘God I love Mrs Queen,’ Jeremy Clarkson tweeted.
Presenter and poker champion Victoria Coren Mitchell was enthusiastic, posting: ‘Hurray for the Queen! I thought that speech was terrific.’
The message travelled overseas too, with Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness tweeting ‘Watching the queens speech’ alongside a wistful gif of himself.
A royal expert said the televised address was a ‘calming message at a time of crisis’.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the monarch made a ‘touching and heartwarming’ reference to children’s rainbows being the symbol of the national spirit.
He described the rare address as history repeating itself, with the Queen delivering the message from Windsor Castle, just as she did 80 years ago as a young princess in a radio broadcast during the Second World War.
The royal commentator said: ‘It’s a calming message from the Queen at a time of crisis.
‘Some might question the validity of such a thing in the 21st century, but clearly she is still seen by many as a matriarch, both here and in the other countries of which she is Queen.
‘So people look to her at times such as this.
‘Although she has witnessed so many catastrophes throughout her 68-year reign, she’s never come across anything quite like this before.’
The Queen spoke about the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic, saying: ‘While we have faced challenges before, this one is different.’
Throughout the UK, youngsters have painted and drawn rainbows and hung them in their windows to raise the spirits of passers-by, while thousands across the country have taken part in the Clap for Carers tributes.
The Queen 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.’
Mr Little said of her reference to the rainbows: ‘It was quite touching and heartwarming.’
He added: ‘She also talks about the speech she gave 80 years ago with Princess Margaret in October 1940 in the same Windsor Castle setting.
‘It’s quite remarkable that it should be necessary to speak about a world in turmoil 80 years later.
‘It appears to be deeply personal but it is what you would expect her to say as head of state and head of the Commonwealth.’
The message made no direct mention of the Queen’s own family’s experience of coronavirus.
Her eldest son the Prince of Wales contracted and recovered from the illness.
The Doyle family, in the village of Bishop’s Itchington in Warwickshire, watch Queen Elizabeth II deliver her address to the nation
Royal photographer Samir Hussein shares a photo of his family watching the speech, including son Emil, aged 4, wife Charlotte and daughter Leilani Hussein, one
Val Cloke sits in her living room in the village of Hartley Wintney, west of London, watching the Queen’s historic address tonight
Molly, Emily and Sophie watch Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II during a televised address to the nation on the coronavirus outbreak
Mr Little said: ‘Perhaps mentioning Charles might have distracted from the other people that warranted her attention, such as the carers and key workers.
‘I think the message was more as monarch rather than as mother.’