Queen Elizabeth II issued a statement Thursday about the novel coronavirus, offering a reminder of the “vitally important part” every person plays in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“As (Prince) Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families, across the United Kingdom and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty,” reads the statement.
As more people around the world enter self-isolation, changing normal routines and regular patterns of life is for the “greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them,” said the Queen.
The Queen concluded her statement with a message of hope.
“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe,” she said.
“I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”
On Tuesday, Buckingham Palace announced in a statement a number of changes to the Queen‘s personal schedule during the COVID-19 outbreak, including many cancellations of events she typically attends.
She’s arrived at Windsor on Thursday, a week earlier than planned, for the Easter holidays. Her annual garden parties, as well as the Maundy Service at St. George’s Chapel on April 9, have been cancelled to prevent the virus’s spread.
Guests invited to the parties, the statement continues, will be extended an invitation for ones in 2021 so they can still attend.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s highly anticipated yearly Chelsea Flower Show has been cancelled as well.
“As a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances, a number of changes are being made to The Queen’s diary,” the official statement reads.
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“In consultation with the Medical Household and Government, a number of public events with large numbers of people due to have been attended by the Queen, and other Members of the Royal Family, in the coming months will be cancelled or postponed.”
Alternative plans for the Queen’s birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, the Japanese state visit and the 75th anniversary of VE Day will be made in due course in line with the government.
The announcement comes in the wake of other postponements of various public engagements, including the Queen’s scheduled visit to Camden and Cheshire this month.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall‘s tour of Jordan, Cyprus, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, meant to kick off on March 17, has also been cancelled.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were also meant to attend St. Patrick’s Day events as usual, but were forced to miss them this year.
Their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, are set to be homeschooled amid the ongoing crisis.
The children were due to finish for Easter break on March 26.
Thomas’s London Day Schools, which operates the school that George, 6, and four-year-old Charlotte attend, said in a statement: “From this date the curriculum will be taught through online learning platforms and we have asked parents to keep their children at home and to access their lessons through this system.”
On Wednesday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shared a similar message of solidarity.
Taking to their official Instagram page, the couple shared a simple message of hope.
“This moment is as true a testament there is to the human spirit,” the blue-and-white text on the photo reads.
Harry and Markle expanded on their message in the caption, writing: “These are uncertain times. And now, more than ever, we need each other. We need each other for truth, for support and to feel less alone during a time that can honestly feel quite scary.”
They go on to add that they’ll be sharing resources and information, as well as inspiring stories of connection, over the coming weeks.
“We often speak of compassion. All of our lives are in some way affected by this, uniting each of us globally. How we approach each other and our communities with empathy and kindness is indisputably important right now,” the caption reads.
In just over a week, Prince Harry and Markle will be officially exempt from senior royal duties. While they’ll be keeping their duke and duchess titles, as well as their Royal Highness titles, they won’t be using them on further projects or outings.
They’ll be undergoing a full revamp of their digital channels in just over a week, the couple announced on their official website.
Buckingham Palace also confirmed that the wedding reception for Princess Beatrice of York and her fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, originally planned for May 29, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The couple may still hold a small ceremony in May, according to a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace, but they will consider “government advice” before making any decisions.
As of Thursday, the United Kingdom had 2,626 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In the U.K., 103 people have died from the virus.
The new coronavirus was first identified in Hubei province, China, in December 2019 and spread rapidly. While the outbreak has begun to level off in China, it seems the virus has found a foothold in a number of countries around the world, and it continues to spread.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
— With files from Global News’ Meaghan Wray and ET Canada