Donald Trump has praised the Queen as a ‘great & wonderful woman’ ahead of her rare address to the nation tonight over the coronavirus pandemic.
Seeing the news of the monarch’s extremely rare broadcast, the President took to Twitter to share his admiration for the 93-year-old, who will speak to the country in only her fifth-ever televised message, except for at Christmas.
‘A great & wonderful woman!’ Trump posted online a few hours ahead of the programming.
Last month, the President used his second ever Oval Office address to outline new restrictions on travel and trade to the United States in the fight against Covid-19.
Mr Trump has long been an advocate of the Queen, and has previously said he had an ‘automatic chemistry’ with her and has ‘really got to know’ her during their private meetings at international events.
The Queen will tonight deliver a rallying cry to the nation in which she expresses hope that the ‘quiet, good-humoured resolve’ of the British people will help to overcome the coronavirus crisis.
Invoking the spirit of the Second World War, the 93-year-old monarch will tell tens of millions of TV viewers: ‘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-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country.’
In the televised broadcast, recorded in extraordinary circumstances at Windsor Castle with a sole cameraman dressed in protective clothing, the Queen will confront the scale of the task facing the country.
‘I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,’ she 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.’
In only the fifth such address of her 68-year reign, the Queen will also thank NHS staff and other key workers.
His latest post about the 93-year-old came shortly before one of her extremely rare royal addresses, with the exception of her annual Christmas message.
They come in times of war, such as the Gulf conflict in 1991, and at times of great sorrow. There was a broadcast after the shocking death of Princess Diana in 1997 and another on the eve of the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002.
On just one occasion, for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, Her Majesty took the opportunity to mark a joyful celebration.
Never before, however, has there been a Royal address in quite such extraordinary circumstances as these.
When, on Thursday, the Queen took her seat in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle to record the broadcast that will be screened tonight, it must have seemed one of the strangest and most troubling duties of her 68-year reign.
Several yards distant, stood a solitary cameraman in latex gloves and a surgical mask.
Such arrangements are in keeping with the bizarre new way of living that has swept up the Palace just like the rest of Britain. And the Royal Household, too, has been profoundly disrupted.
As the pandemic established its hold on the country, the Queen kept on top of the situation with regular briefings from officials – at a safe distance. And from the moment it was understood just how serious the coronavirus would be, it was likely that she would have a vital role to play.
Initially, there had been talk among aides of organizing an Easter Day address, a good time for the monarch to offer a message of hope. But as the situation worsened by the day, a more rapid response was needed from an institution not usually known for its dynamic pace.
One source said there was also a ‘Diana factor’ – the memory among courtiers of the troubling time when the Queen was criticiZed for waiting nearly a week before addressing the nation following the sudden death of the Princess of Wales.
No such mistakes would be made this time. Never in her reign has there been so much at stake, as the nation struggles with lockdown, the economy reels and the death toll mounts.
A Palace source said the message, written by the Queen and her aides, was ‘deeply personal’ to Her Majesty and reflected ‘her experience in other difficult times’.
And for just over four minutes, the Queen looks into the camera and, speaking about the challenge facing the nation, acknowledges the sacrifice people are making.
To do so, she mentions those sacrifices Britain and her allies made during the Second World War, making the point that we have come through bad times together before thanks to our strength of character and spirit of unity.
In this way, she evokes the spirit of the speech her father King George VI made at the start of the Second World War when he said there would be ‘dark times ahead’ but offered hope that the British spirit would see the country through.
There will also be gratitude in the message tonight, however, as the Queen rallies the strength of the British people.
A source said: ‘The message will include a thank-you to those on the NHS front line, care workers and those carrying out essential roles. It will also recognize the pain already felt by many families who have lost loved ones and thank those who are following the official guidance to stay at home to protect the vulnerable.’
The monarch, who turns 94 this month, has been self-isolating at Windsor Castle, the residence where she feels most at home. The 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh is there with her.
For days leading up to the filming of tonight’s broadcast, conversations had been taking place between Palace aides and Government advisers, with input and advice from the Queen’s personal physicians, known as the ‘Medical Household’.
The question that kept cropping up was: ‘How can we do this safely to mitigate the risk to the Queen and others?’ And in order to comply with the Government’s social distancing regulations, unusual measures were put in place.
The Queen would record the poignant message to the nation with just one other person present.
It had never been done like this before.
For the recording, a microphone had been set up in advance and a team of sound engineers and other technical staff were watching and listening via screens and speakers in the neighboring Green Drawing Room.
While the format of tonight’s address will be familiar to viewers of the Queen’s Christmas message, the framed family photographs that typically accompany Her Majesty during happier broadcasts are absent.
Gone too from the recording session were the behind-the-scenes staff – the six to nine Palace aides who normally watch over proceedings to ensure all goes smoothly.
The Queen is known by Palace staff past and present for her skill at being able to execute her broadcasts in just one take – which any television host will tell you is no mean feat. But Her Majesty was required on this occasion to repeat the message several times so that the sole cameraman could reshoot from different angles.
A royal source said: ‘A decision was taken to just use a skeleton crew which reflected the time and the seriousness of the subject.’
Chosen for practical reasons, the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle was considered by staff as the best location as it allowed for sufficient distance between the Queen and the camera operator.
With portraits of royal ancestors on the walls, an ornate circular carpet and carved gilded wooden panels, the room is usually the setting for happier occasions.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who will mark their 15th anniversary later this week, posed for photographs in the room on their wedding day.
Less than two years ago, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank also used the room as a backdrop for their wedding photographs. A clearly delighted Queen could be seen beaming widely for the camera alongside her granddaughter.
On Thursday, however, the atmosphere was notably somber.
Throughout her reign, the Queen has seen and endured a great deal. Who could forget her ‘annus horribilis’ Christmas message of 1992 – the year a fire tore through Windsor Castle and the marriages of three of her four children fell apart?
The White Drawing Room itself, in which this historic address was recorded under extraordinary circumstances, could have been destroyed in the blaze, which more than 200 firefighters battled to contain.
Fortunately, however, the magnificent state room and the 62 carved, gilded wooden panels in the three drawing rooms of the most damaged wing of the castle survived.
It took four years and a £37million ($45,399) project to restore the rooms to their former glory. Yet restored they were.
Palace aides say the choice of Windsor’s White Drawing Room for tonight’s broadcast was driven by pragmatic considerations.
But it could hardly have been a more fitting backdrop to provide the country with a much-needed message of hope and renewal.