Reigning British monarchs very rarely address the nation directly. Aside from the annual 5-10 minute Christmas speech, Queen Elizabeth has only issued four other special addresses in her reign of almost 70 years.
What Will She Say?
The obvious topic is the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of public response from the Queen had led some to speculate that she was ill and unable to address the nation. This speech, in part, will be to reassure her subjects that Elizabeth is alive and well.
She pre-recorded the message at Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating along with Prince Philip. Previous broadcasts were aired live.
The special broadcast will likely praise NHS workers–the United Kingdom’s socialized medicine system. What we don’t know is whether she’ll merely issue the general platitudes of “keep calm and carry on.” The Queen may issue specific instructions for people to shelter in place or reinforce the government’s strict lockdown measures.
It’s less likely that she’ll directly address her health or that of her family.
The Prince’s Speech
Prince Charles recently recovered from what was reportedly a mild case of COVID-19. He recorded his own, less formal address, at his country home on the grounds of Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
“As a nation, we are faced by a profoundly challenging situation, which we are only too aware threatens the livelihoods, businesses and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens,” Charles said.
“None of us can say when this will end, but end it will. Until it does, let us all try and live with hope and, with faith in ourselves and each other, look forward to better times to come.”
How Can You Watch the Speech?
Buckingham Palace plans to broadcast the speech on TV and radio throughout the UK on Sunday, April 5. It’s set to begin at 8 p.m. BST (which is 3 p.m. Eastern and 12 p.m. Pacific).
They also intend to show the address on the Royal Family’s social media channels, so you’ll be able to watch on Instagram if you’re located outside the UK.
Other Times the Queen Addressed the Nation
In 1991, she appeared live on television to address the Commonwealth about the Gulf War. She urged the nation to pray that the war would be “as swift as it is certain.”
In 1997, she was broadcast live to talk about the “overwhelming expression of sadness” following Princess Diana’s death.
In 2002, she once again addressed the nation on the death of a family member. Elizabeth’s mother–affectionately known as the Queen Mum–passed away at the age of 101.
Finally, she gave a speech in 2012 to acknowledge her Diamond Jubilee celebrating her 60th year on the throne.