Coronavirus: Queen urges people to play their part in period of 'concern and uncertainty'

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

The Queen has said the world is in a “period of great concern and uncertainty” as she and her husband retreated to Windsor amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 93-year-old monarch urged people to play their part, appearing to warn them to stay at home as the government continues to push for social distancing.

She has postponed several of her engagements and gone to Windsor Castle a week early for Easter Court.

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The Queen left London a week early. (PA Images)

A message released by Buckingham Palace read: “As 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.

“We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them.

“At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.

The Queen with her dorgi on the way to Windsor Castle. (PA Images)

“We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals – today and in the coming days, weeks and months.

“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

Read more: How Prince Andrew or Prince Harry could be called on if the Queen gets coronavirus

Her message follows a video released by her grandson Prince William, who helped to launch a fundraising appeal for the National Emergencies Trust.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also shared a message on Instagram with followers urging kindness and pledging to share expert advice.

The Queen had to postpone engagements including trips to Cheshire and to Camden. However she continued with a planned audience at the palace on Wednesday before leaving for Windsor on Thursday.

She was seen in her car with one of her dorgis in the back seat.

Read more: Queen holds audience with Boris Johnson over the phone amid coronavirus pandemic

Her husband Prince Philip was flown down from Sandringham a week early too, to join her.

Their granddaughter Princess Beatrice has faced disappointment as she was forced to cancel her planned wedding reception in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, in light of government advice about large gatherings.

She and her fiance said they would be continually monitoring the situation with regard to their ceremony.

There have been a few blows to Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi's wedding plans. (Getty Images)

However they may have been dealt another blow to their plans as the Church of England announced only five people could be at weddings for the foreseeable future – the couple, two witnesses, and the officiant.

The Countess of Wessex is also understood to have cancelled planned engagements. Sophie was due to go to Jersey to visit the NSPCC’s centre there.

An NSPCC Jersey spokesman told ITV they were “optimistic” it could be rescheduled.

Prince Albert of Monaco has became the first monarch to be diagnosed with coronavirus, but a statement from the palace said his health was not a worry.

He was with Prince Charles in London at an event on 10 March.

Boris Johnson has said people should avoid pubs, cafes and anywhere with large gatherings in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus. But he has not yet shut down any public spaces.

Read more: Will the Queen have to self-isolate? How world's royal families are affected by coronavirus

The Queen on one of her final engagements before she left early for Windsor. (PA)

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world

Fact-checker: The number of Covid-19 cases in your local area

Explained: Symptoms, latest advice and how it compares to the flu

Schools will close from Friday afternoon to all but the children of key workers, including people who work for the NHS, police, and delivery drivers.

Earlier today the prime minister tweeted: “I want to say a huge thank you on behalf of the whole country to everyone working in our NHS, of every specialism and role, in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve never needed you more than we do today.”

He has also denied rumours London will go into lockdown as the government continues to “add downward pressure” to the disease.