By Chris York
The Queen has stressed the importance of maintaining the coronavirus lockdown during the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, saying “by keeping apart we keep others safe”.
With the Covid-19 outbreak making church services impossible, the Queen has delivered what is believed to be her first Easter address, which had the resolute message: “We know that coronavirus will not overcome us.”
The Queen’s pre-recorded speech offered support to those marking Easter privately and the wider country, and she said: “But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever.”
It ended on a positive note: “May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”
The Queen speaks of light overcoming darkness, and the hope that Easter symbolises, in a special message recorded to mark the Easter weekend. pic.twitter.com/fTFCOSVBtT
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 11, 2020
The speech came after the Queen’s televised address to the nation last Sunday when she said by remaining united the country would overcome the virus, and told those in lockdown “we will meet again”.
The messages illustrate the importance of the head of the nation appearing at times of crisis to rally the country and keep up morale.
The Queen said in her audio message recorded on Good Friday at Windsor Castle: “This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe.
“But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever.”
Easter is the most important period in the religious calendar for Christians. It is the culmination of holy week and celebrates the resurrection of Christ.
The government is urging people to stay at home this Easter amid fears that with continuing good weather, people will flock to parks and beaches and undermine its social distancing strategy.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has acknowledged the warm weather but said it was too early to lift the social distancing measures.
The latest figures from the Department of Health reveal a total of 9,875 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Friday, up by 917 from 8,958 the day before.
The Queen said: “The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this. We know that coronavirus will not overcome us.
“As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”
The message was written by the Queen, who has a strong religious faith, and was accompanied by footage of a candle lighting an altar which illustrated her theme of “light overcoming darkness”.
Speaking about the symbolic importance of the lighting of candles, she added: “They seem to speak to every culture and appeal to people of all faiths, and of none.
“They are lit on birthday cakes and to mark family anniversaries, when we gather happily around a source of light. It unites us.”
Social distancing was observed during the recording of the message, with the Queen delivering the address alone into a microphone set up in Windsor Castle’s White Drawing room while the sound engineer was in a nearby room.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will deliver his Easter sermon in a video recorded in his flat at Lambeth Palace.
He had an audience with the Queen on Thursday, speaking with the monarch by telephone due to the lockdown.
The Queen’s message was broadcast on the royal family’s digital and social media accounts.