LONDON – It was a rare speech intended to calm a nation struggling under the weight of a pandemic.
“Better days will come back,” said Queen Elizabeth II, and repeated the popular World War II song “We´ll Meet Again” that gave hope to many on the front lines. “We’ll be with our friends again; we will be back with our families; we will meet again. “
But shortly after the Queen’s cry to her subjects ended on Sunday evening, the British cell phones were full of news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been hospitalized – 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
While his office on Downing Street said it was a “precautionary step” and Johnson remained responsible for the government, the news nevertheless underlined the deep crisis Britain is facing as it tries to control the outbreak of the corona virus.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, the country has registered 47,806 cases of the new virus and 4,934 deaths. Given the rising numbers, Johnson’s government has been widely criticized for the lack of available tests in the UK – after promising weeks ago to increase the tests rapidly.
The Prime Minister’s office said Monday that UK coronavirus testing exceeded 16,000 on Sunday, according to the British Press Association, exceeding the government’s original promise of 10,000 a day the government made last month .
However, progress has been slow to increase test numbers. Health minister Matt Hancock said at a press conference last week that 100,000 tests per day would be performed by the end of April.
Then came the news that Scotland’s chief physician was forced to resign after visiting her second home for two weekends in a row, and broke her own advice to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
And now the country has to deal with its leader in the hospital.
Johnson’s office said the hospital admission was on his doctor’s advice and not an emergency, but the news still raises questions about how the 55-year-old can lead a competitive nation out of his hospital bed. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab was to head the government’s coronavirus meeting on Monday.
When he pressed whether it was safe for the prime minister to continue working in the hospital on Monday, his official spokesman said Johnson would follow the doctor’s advice. Johnson will continue to be responsible for the government, the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, The Prime Minister tweeted on Monday that he was in a “good mood”.
Despite the alarming political developments, the British seemed to find comfort in the Queen’s skill, which is admired beyond the borders of the United Kingdom.
Many used social media to say thank you.
“So proud to be British and to have Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as our head of state. Very emotional when I watch her speech, ”said Kate Hoey, former Labor MP. Tweeted on Sunday.
“She is our queen too. And she touches many hearts around the world, including #Canadians like me.” another Twitter user replied.
It is a rare event. The Queen gives annual Christmas messages, but has given such an address only three times before, according to The Associated Press.
She made speeches after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, before the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 and at the time of the first Gulf War in 1991.
In the speech on Sunday, the Queen offered her support to the country and drew parallels to the British struggle during World War II.
“It reminds me of the very first show I did with my sister in 1940. We as children have spoken to children from here in Windsor who have been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety, ”she said.
“Today, many will feel a painful feeling of separation from their loved ones again. But now, like back then, we know deep down that it’s the right thing to do. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.