Britain's Queen Elizabeth on Sunday spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic. In a rare televised speech, she offered no bluster, no drama, no scolding reminder that 6 feet of distance stand between you and possible death. Nor were there any of the claims of accomplishment and ascriptions of blame that have become a staple on these shores. Instead, she offered comfort, gratitude to her nation's health workers, a belief that life will go back to normal, and this simple poetic coda:
"We will meet again."
It was only the fourth time in her 93 years she's made a special broadcast related to current events, and she nailed it.
This was a check-in during a crisis in a nation with thousands of people, tragically, dying. At last count, in Great Britain, there were 48,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 4,000 deaths. Elizabeth never mentioned her eldest son, Prince Charles, 71, who appears to be recovering from the virus, or British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who's been hospitalized. She kept her focus on the British public.
Elizabeth is not an elected official. She's a member of a royal family that's been reduced to a public relations commodity over the past decades. She fulfilled that public relations duty on Sunday with her speech from Windsor Castle. She's no orator. She was stoic. She didn't try to pretend she isn't well-cared for and wealthy. (She sat before the camera wearing pearls and a giant diamond brooch.)
But she is a historian or, at least, a living history lesson — being 93, living through World War II and the subsequent conflicts that Britain has played a part in. She hit all the appropriate notes, expressing her appreciation for health care workers and for people obeying orders to stay home, and acknowledging the financial difficulties that have disrupted so many lives. But what she brought to this crisis was the perspective informed by time, predicting that the self-discipline and "good-humored resolve" that the British are showing today will be honored tomorrow.
"The pride in who we are is not a part of our past," she told listeners. "It defines our present and our future."
She also pointed out that this is a global fight. "We will succeed," she noted, "and that success will belong to every one of us."
Carla Hall is a Los Angeles Times editorial board member.