I’ll admit it, I shed a tear. I think the Queen’s address to the nation and to the Commonwealth as the coronavirus pandemic continued moved many. For in four minutes of carefully chosen words, Her Majesty spoke the reality that envelopes our lives while reminding us all that hope will prevail.
Rightly, her message began and continued with praise for all those working so bravely on the NHS front line. As her simple words of thanks were spoken over images of doctors, nurses and soldiers building the Nightingale Hospital in London, she spoke for everyone whose heart is filled with gratitude.
She also expressed her support for those working tirelessly to make sure the vulnerable are cared for and food is available. And in her calm, measured way she underlined the message that staying home saves lives with a gentle reminder that not going out will spare people ‘’the pain already felt by those who have lost loved one’’.
But this was also a royal message and filled with moments that will resonate through the years. It touched on moments, overt and less obvious, that for many chime with national identity. The reminder that our actions now will mean that ‘’those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any’’, had a hint of Shakespeare’s Henry V. The moving inclusion of those famous words from World War Two, ‘’We Will Meet Again’’, struck a chord with millions. And the only person who could bring all those moments together was The Queen.
It was a perfectly judged, expertly delivered speech. And it was special because it didn’t seem like a speech. There was no preaching, no empty phrases, no grand promises that couldn’t be kept. This was about the people affected by a situation no one could imagine even a short month ago. This was about the lives changed forever. This was about the way everyone has found reality altered in a manner far beyond their control.
But it was also about hope. The overarching message was that this, too, will pass – a wise message delivered with all the wisdom of the Queen’s long reign. But not in a flippant way. There was nothing dismissive about the terrible pain many find themselves in and the difficult days we are all experiencing. That was acknowledged, time and again. But so, too, was the fact that one day, it will be gone and life will return to what we call normal.
Everything that matters to many in the UK right now was spoken in this calm, gentle and authoritative address. It was a moment of unity, delivered just when it was needed. And it was filled with humanity. In those four, simple words, ‘’We Will Meet Again’’, the Queen has provided a focal point at a time of endless change.