Queen Elizabeth’s Coronavirus Address Was for the British—But It Felt Like It Was for All of Us

The praise for Queen Elizabeth's coronavirus address was unanimous from politicians, journalists, celebrities, and ordinary citizens alike.

4/7/2020 3:01:00 AM

The praise for Queen Elizabeth's coronavirus address was unanimous from politicians, journalists, celebrities, and ordinary citizens alike.

At a time when so many of us yearn for leadership that’s truthful, that gives us a glimmer of hope just as the night turns the darkest—it was like she was comforting everyone.

Her rhetoric was calm, powerful, and apolitical. The nonagenarian referenced her own experience during WW II and the Blitz—a time when she, like many children across England, was often separated from her urban-dwelling parents for her safety. A time when so many had no idea when or if life would ever return to normal. So when she spoke her final line—“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”—you

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knewshe believed it.When history looks back on this address, perhaps they will compare it to Churchill’s “finest hour” speech, also given amid great uncertainty, when the tides had not yet turned for the better. A few hours before her scheduled broadcast, the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, was hospitalized due to COVID-19. He is now in intensive care.

Advertisementtelevised addressof his own. He called Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker a complainer, and said that he “has not performed well.” He said his administration “inherited a broken system” when it came to tests. He plugged the use of hydroxychloroquine. Afterward, when a CNN reporter asked him about conclusive medical evidence of its efficacy, he responded, “Only CNN would ask that question. Fake news.” There were moments of attempted leadership—“In the days ahead, America will endure the peak of this terrible pandemic. Our warriors in this life-and-death battle are the incredible doctors and nurses and health care workers on the frontline of the fight. We pledge to them our eternal gratitude and everlasting support.” But they were quickly derailed by nonsensical asides, like: “They make all of us very proud. Our country is very proud. We have people—they love our country. The world loves our country, most of it. Probably all of it; they just don’t say it.” As so many of us sat on our couches, isolated, the combativeness and confusion of it only contributed to a great sense of fear.

As the United Kingdom’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth’s speech was in name addressed to her country. But, thanks to the internet and social media, it reached every corner of the world. And at a time when so many of us yearn for truthful leadership that gives us a glimmer of hope just as the night turns the darkest—it was like she was assuaging us all. (“Queen Elizabeth made me cry,”

tweeted Rose McGowan.“By comforting us and reminding us that though we may not be her British subjects, we are globally joined in this fight.”)Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but maybe she was. “While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal,” she said, clearly and calmly, as she stared right into the camera. “We will succeed—and that success will belong to every one of us.”



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