The Queen will address the nation about the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, marking just the fourth time that she has recorded a special message.
Her Majesty, who has previously pledged that she and her family are “ready to play our part” in seeing the country through the COVID-19 crisis, will attempt to boost morale in a televised broadcast at 8pm.
Expectation had been growing that the monarch would make a public statement about a situation that has seen the entire country enter an unprecedented lockdown.
While the Queen regularly speaks to the nation in her Christmas Day messages, the speech about the coronavirus marks just the fourth time in history she has given an off-calendar address about current affairs.
She previously gave a televised address ahead of her mother’s funeral in 2002, following the death of Diana in 1997, and during the Gulf War in 1991.
In the speech about her mother, the Queen appeared dressed in black to thank the public for their support and pay tribute the “infectious zest for living” that she had enjoyed.
The address about Diana, Princess of Wales, came after her sudden death in a car crash in Paris, with the monarch criticised by sections of the media for remaining at Balmoral in the aftermath.
She was due to deliver an address in a pre-recorded message, but it was then decided to broadcast the speech live as mourners gathered outside Buckingham Palace.
The Queen paid tribute to Diana as “an exceptional and gifted human being”, and added: “In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.”
The speech about the Gulf War came as the allied land offensive began against Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait.
She called on people to unite and pray that the Armed Forces’ success would be as “swift as it is certain”, and that it would be “achieved with as small a cost in human life and suffering as possible”.
Among those to have been infected is heir to the throne Prince Charles, who has recovered after spending a week in isolation and this morning opened the new 4,000-bed NHS Nightingale hospital.
The Prince of Wales commended the temporary facility at the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands via video link.
With 80 wards, the hospital – built in just two weeks – is now the largest critical care unit in the world.
Speaking from his Scottish estate of Birkhall, Prince Charles said: “It is without doubt a spectacular and unbelievable feat of work in every sense.”
He said: “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.
“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.”
His mother is likely to praise the efforts of health workers and all those who have been helping in the fight against coronavirus in her speech, and seek to reassure the public as the pandemic continues.