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As Virus Sweeps Through UK, a Rare Move From Queen

Elizabeth will be speaking to the nation Sunday evening
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2020 1:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – The British prime minister came down with COVID-19; so did Prince Charles. Now, the latter's mum will take to the mic Sunday to address the coronavirus that's already infected more than 38,000 in the United Kingdom as of Friday, with just over 3,600 deaths. The BBC reports that Queen Elizabeth II will deliver a national address about the virus on Sunday at 8pm local time (3pm ET)—one of only a handful of times the queen has given such a speech in times of national crisis. Although Elizabeth does offer her thoughts to the nation each Christmas, this type of address has happened only three other times while she's been queen: during the Gulf War in 1991; after Princess Diana died in 1997; and when her own mother, the queen mother, died in 2002.

More than two weeks ago, the queen released a message to the UK that, because of the coronavirus, the nation was "entering a period of great concern and uncertainty." CNN notes that the queen already recorded the address at Windsor Castle, where she's been holed up since mid-March. Per the Buckingham Palace Twitter account, in addition to the address being televised, it will also be available on radio and social media. "It is clearly a measure of the seriousness of the situation in which this country and indeed the wider world finds itself," BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell says, speculating that the speech may encompass everything from reassurances and thanks to health care workers, to what role the public can play in helping to mitigate the situation. (Read more Queen Elizabeth II stories.)

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