UK’s Queen Elizabeth invokes WW2 spirit: we can defeat the coronavirus

In a recent undated handout image released by Buckingham Palace on April 5, 2020 Britain's Queen Elizabeth II records her address to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus epidemic at Windsor Castle, west of London. (AFP)
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Updated 05 April 2020

UK’s Queen Elizabeth invokes WW2 spirit: we can defeat the coronavirus

  • Queen makes only fifth special broadcast to nation
  • “We will meet again,” she says, echoing WW2 song

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth told the British people on Sunday that they would overcome the coronavirus outbreak if they stayed resolute in the face of lockdown and self-isolation, invoking the spirit of World War Two in an extremely rare broadcast to the nation.
In what was only the fifth televised address of her 68-year reign, Elizabeth called upon Britons to show the resolve of their forbears and demonstrate they were as strong as generations of the past.
“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” the 93-year-old monarch said in the address from her Windsor Castle home where she is staying with her husband Prince Philip, 98.
“While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed — and that success will belong to every one of us.”
The broadcast came hours after officials said the death toll in Britain from the virus had risen by 621 in the last 24 hours to 4,934 with high fatalities still expected in the next week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is among those in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, and the queen’s own son and heir Prince Charles, 71, has recovered after suffering mild symptoms of the virus.
Like many countries in Europe, Britain is in a state of virtual lockdown, with people told to stay at home unless it was essential to go out. Health minister Matt Hancock said even stricter riles might be imposed if the current rules to curb the spread of the virus were flouted.

WORLD WAR TWO SPIRIT
Elizabeth thanked those who were staying at home, thereby helping to spare others from suffering the grief already felt by some families.
She also paid tribute to health care staff for their selfless work and commended the “heart-warming” stories of people across the Commonwealth, of which she is head, and beyond for delivering food and medicines to those who needed them.
Sunday’s address was an extremely rare as the queen usually only speaks to the nation in her annual televised Christmas Day message.
In order to ensure any risk to the elderly monarch herself was mitigated, it was filmed in a big room to ensure a safe distance between her and the cameraman, who wore gloves and a mask and was the only other person present.
Elizabeth said the situation reminded her of her first ever broadcast in 1940, when she and her late sister Margaret spoke from Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes to escape bombing raids by Nazi German aircraft.
She said that in the future people could take pride in how they too had dealt with such a challenge and disruption to their lives.
“Those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said. “That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.”
She even invoked the words of the famous song “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn from World War Two which became a symbol of hope for Britons during the conflict.
“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return,” she said. “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”


‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Afghan envoy Daudzai

Updated 09 July 2020

‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Afghan envoy Daudzai

  • Pakistan played positive role in US-Taliban peace talks, says diplomat

PESHAWAR: Afghanistan’s newly appointed special envoy for Pakistan has had put “mending political relations” between the two estranged nations as one of his top priorities.

Mohammed Umer Daudzai, on Tuesday said that his primary focus would be to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan and maintain strong ties with Pakistan, especially after Islamabad’s key role in the Afghan peace process earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview, the diplomat told Arab News: “Two areas have been identified to focus on with renewed vigor, such as lasting peace in Afghanistan and cementing Pak-Afghan bilateral ties in economic, social, political and other areas.”

In order to achieve these aims, he said, efforts would be intensified “to mend political relations” between the neighboring countries.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,600-kilometer porous border and have been at odds for years. Bonds between them have been particularly strained due to a deep mistrust and allegations of cross-border infiltration by militants.

Kabul has blamed Islamabad for harboring Taliban leaders after they were ousted from power in 2001. But Pakistan has denied the allegations and, instead, accused Kabul of providing refuge to anti-Pakistan militants – a claim rejected by Afghanistan.

Daudzai said his immediate priority would be to focus on “political reconciliation” between the two countries, especially in the backdrop of a historic peace agreement signed in February this year when Pakistan played a crucial role in facilitating a troop withdrawal deal between the US and the Taliban to end the decades-old Afghan conflict. “Afghanistan needs political reconciliation which the Afghan government has already been working on to achieve bottom-up harmony,” he added.

Daudzai’s appointment Monday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took place days after Islamabad chose Mohammed Sadiq as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special representative for Afghanistan.

Reiterating the need to maintain strong bilateral ties with all of its neighbors, Daudzai said Pakistan’s role was of paramount importance to Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has a positive role in the US-Taliban peace talks, and now Islamabad could play a highly significant role in the imminent intra-Afghan talks. I will explore all options for a level-playing field for the success of all these initiatives,” he said, referring in part to crucial peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban which were delayed due to a stalemate in a prisoner exchange program – a key condition of the Feb. 29 peace deal.

Under the agreement, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and around 1,000 government prisoners were to be freed by March 10. So far, Afghanistan has released 3,000 prisoners, while the Taliban have freed 500. Daudzai said that while dates had yet to be finalized, the intra-Afghan dialogue could begin “within weeks.”

He added: “A date for intra-Afghan talks hasn’t been identified yet because there is a stalemate on prisoners’ release. But I am sure they (the talks) will be kicked off within weeks.”

Experts say Daudzai’s appointment could give “fresh momentum” to the stalled process and revitalize ties between the two estranged neighbors.

“Mohammed Sadiq’s appointment...could lead Kabul-Islamabad to a close liaison and better coordination,” Irfanullah Khan, an MPhil scholar and expert on Afghan affairs, told Arab News.

Daudzai said that he would be visiting Islamabad to kickstart the process as soon as the coronavirus disease-related travel restrictions were eased.

Prior to being appointed as the special envoy, he had served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan from April 2011 to August 2013.