Queen: I Want British to ‘Take Pride’ in Response to ‘Increasingly Challenging’ Time of Coronavirus
“Those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” the queen will tell the U.K. later today, in a special, coronavirus-themed speech.
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Queen: Coronavirus brings “increasingly challenging” time
In a speech to be delivered at 8pm local time (3pm EST), Reuters reported that the queen will say, “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterize this country.”
Two paragraphs of the queen’s speech were released by Buckingham Palace ahead of the broadcast. The queen, 93, recorded the speech at Windsor Castle, where she is isolating with husband, Prince Philip, 98.
Although the queen recites her famous “queen’s speech” every Christmas Day, the message on Sunday will only be her fifth special speech to the nation in her 68-year reign.
“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,” the queen will say. “A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.”
The Sunday Times reports that the four-minute message was recorded in the White Drawing Room of the castle. Only one BBC cameraman, wearing protective gear, was allowed into the state room during filming; the rest of the crew remained in another room.
A government source told The Sunday Times: “We have asked the country to make huge sacrifices and life is very difficult at the moment for a great many people. Hearing from Her Majesty the Queen at this time is an important way of helping to lift the nation’s spirits.”
Meghan Markle searches for A-list Hollywood role
Meghan Markle—now in Los Angeles with Prince Harry, and reportedly self-isolating and unable to see her mother, Doria—is readying to restart her acting career. She has already been receiving offers of roles, but “she thinks the majority of them are cheesy and beneath her,” an industry insider told the Daily Mail.
Up until starring in her and Harry’s very own royal saga, Meghan was most famous for her role in Suits, a TV show many people now automatically attach to her name, even if they have never sat through an episode.
She wasn’t A-list before she met Prince Harry, but now believes she should be treated as such, according to the Mail.
Meghan has “been telling her agents that she wants (the director) Ava DuVernay involved, and that they need to find the right script,” the insider told the Mail.
Ordinarily, starring in a little-known TV show doesn’t automatically lead to massive movie roles, but such is the power of marrying a royal, and then both of you quitting your jobs, with maximum, earth-shattering drama (or what counted as such, pre-coronavirus), with the aim of becoming differently famous.
Still, Meghan knows the sharks will be circling. “The former Suits actress is worried critics are going to be especially hard on her,” reports the Mail, “so she wants to make sure a director of the right caliber is attached to the project.”
This is shorthand for: Meghan knows she will be absolutely roasted if she takes on any role and stinks in it. This is not just high stakes for her (and her and Harry’s agent Nick Collins of The Gersh Agency), but also for her future directors and co-stars. Sure, publicity is guaranteed for whatever she stars in; so are viewers. But ideally, you don’t want it to be much-watched and much-talked about, but also much-mocked.
So far, Meghan has provided her voice for an innocuous documentary about elephants. But Meghan wants more.
“Meghan is worried that she won’t be taken seriously as an actress," the insider told the Mail. “Meghan has made it clear to her team that she will only work with A-list directors, but she doesn’t understand that this doesn’t necessarily mean they want to work with her. This could end up being a very lengthy and tedious process because Meghan wants to control every aspect of whatever project she ends up doing.”
If she doesn’t get that Oscar-winning role immediately, Meghan has made it known she is not above selling products via starring in commercials, according to this extremely well-briefed source.
“One commercial could pay for their entire security team for the year. Meghan likes the idea that only the crème de la crème of actors are offered this type of work. She knows they need the money and is not entirely opposed to the idea.”
Harry has already made clear they won’t be doing anything which “ridicules” his royal links, or is “detrimental to the queen.”
So, if in a year’s time they’re doing a Bounty commercial, with Harry saying direct to camera “One must keep the palace kitchen clean,” you'll know something has gone very wrong.
Meet Meghan and Harry’s new Chief of Staff
Meghan and Harry’s last day of being official, frontline royals on March 31 was subsumed by the ongoing news of the coronavirus pandemic—and similarly, passing by without much comment (at least so far) is the appointment of their new chief of staff Catherine St-Laurent.
Town and Country reported on the appointment; in the past, St-Laurent has been head of communication at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and then worked as “Director, Brand and Special Initiatives” for Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company founded by Gates.
The meeting of minds is clear; St-Laurent appears very well-connected in the worlds of progressive philanthropy and activism that are so central to Harry and Meghan’s public lives. So far, as always at the beginning of new jobs, everyone just loves each other’s work!
Harry and Meghan welcomed St-Laurent in a statement. “We are proud to be joined by Catherine St-Laurent in this next chapter with us. Her leadership and proven track record working within two organizations that have tremendous impact in the world—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures—make her an incredible asset and we are excited to have her on our team.”
In a statement, St-Laurent said. “From our very first conversation, Harry and Meghan have expressed a deep commitment to improving lives and having a positive impact on society. Their perspective on the role that empathy, connection, and compassion can play in that mission is both deeply personal and incredibly timely. I am delighted and honored to be able to play a role in realizing their vision as they embark on this journey of learning, listening, and inspiring all of us to act.”
Charles opens coronavirus hospital—virtually
Prince Charles opened NHS Nightingale Hospital in London this week—by teleconference. The 4,000-bed temporary hospital—named after Florence Nightingale—has been constructed to help the capital treat a surge in coronavirus patients, although at the time of writing London hospitals are presently coping with demand.
In his opening speech, delivered from his Scottish home Birkhall (with many family portraits behind him), Charles—himself a coronavirus survivor—thanked the planners, builders, armed forces, private companies, and support staff who had helped build Nightingale House. Charles said an added “an immense debt of gratitude” was owed to doctors, nurses, technicians and NHS staff who had come out of retirement and volunteers who have stepped forward.
Charles offered “special thoughts and prayers” to those patients about to receive treatment at the pop-up hospital.
Referring to Florence Nightingale’s sobriquet as “the lady of the lamp,” Charles said he hoped Nightingale House would be a “shining light” itself. To complete this very unordinary opening ceremony, Charles said he could not officially unveil the hospital itself, leaving the honors to Nightingale’s head of nursing Natalie Grey.
William and Kate’s message of thanks
Prince William and Kate Middleton recorded a coronavirus-related message of thanks for NHS staff at Queen’s Hospital Burton in England and University Hospital Monklands in Scotland.
“We’d just like to say from the two of us how proud we are of all of you and how amazingly you are all doing under such extreme circumstances,” the Duke of Cambridge said in the message, released via the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Twitter account. “I know all of you see this as your job and that you get on with it, but this is a different level and you guys are doing an incredible job. The whole country is proud of you, not just us, we really mean that. So thank you for everything you're doing and all the hours you're putting in.”
Prince Andrew keeps quiet
Given that he has so far not honored his promise to speak to the police investigating the deceased financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, it perhaps should come as little surprise that Prince Andrew has reportedly not leapt at the chance to to be interviewed for a forthcoming documentary about Epstein.
According to the Daily Mirror, Andrew was “formally asked” to appear in Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, a four-hour Lifetime production slated for release this summer to follow the channel’s similarly titled film about R Kelly.
The British paper quoted an unidentified Los Angeles-based source as saying: “Andrew has been asked to appear to discuss his friendship, but there has been no formal response.”
Maybe he has learned something from the disastrous BBC Newsnight interview after all?
Royal fashion watch
Kate Middleton apparently feels under less style pressure now that Meghan Markle is off the scene, swapping cups of sugar with Amal Clooney in LA. The Daily Mail says that while Meghan was around Kate felt she had to “compete,” which seems ridiculous as both women were beautiful and are rich enough to afford very nice clothes.
Anyway, to prove its point the Mail showed Kate wearing a trouser suit by British store Marks and Spencer. It is not clear that this not-terrible-nothing-special trouser suit is an expression of being grateful not to have to compete with Meghan, or more likely that it was worn to unshowily meet medical staff currently in the midst of fighting a cruel global pandemic.
Anyway, at some point Meghan will show up on the radar again, and presumably the “competition”—at least in the Daily Mail’s mind—will begin again.
This week in royal history
He survived coronavirus, and in a subsequent video address got people thinking about his wider merits. Next, on April 9, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary; a period of history that has seen both acceptance of them both as a couple grow, alongside the tumultuous departure of one of his sons, Prince Harry, from the official royal fold.
There have been some forward leaks, but what exactly will the queen say today, how will she look and sound, and how will it be received? And can Prince Harry and Meghan Markle find effective roles in the coronavirus response?