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Queen urges nation to 'work as one' during period of great concern

Adam Davy/PA Wire

By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

The Queen has issued a message of solidarity to the UK amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the country's "history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one".

The 93-year-old monarch, in her first public statement on the crisis, said the country was "entering a period of great concern and uncertainty", but the British public was up to the challenges ahead.

The head of state said she and the royal family stood ready to play their part.

After leaving Buckingham Palace on Thursday with her two dorgis in tow, the Queen is now at Windsor Castle with the Duke of Edinburgh as the royal couple socially distance themselves amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen praised the work of scientists, medical practitioners and the emergency and public services, but she warned that everyone now has a vitally important part to play in the coming months.

She said: "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 added she was sure the nation was up to the challenges of finding new way of keeping in touch with loved ones, and that the royals would play their part too.

She added: "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."

The Queen is expected to remain at Windsor in Berkshire beyond the Easter period.

Philip, 98, was flown by helicopter from the Sandringham estate where he has been staying in his secluded Wood Farm cottage.

The advanced age of both the Queen, who is the nation's longest reigning monarch, and Philip mean they are more at risk of complications if they catch the Covid-19 illness.

The royal couple will be based at Windsor with a reduced number of staff as a precaution, and will be following the advice of their medical household and the Government.

The Government is advising everyone in the UK, particularly the over-70s, to avoid all non-essential contact and travel as part of unprecedented peacetime measures aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK could "turn the tide" of the outbreak in the next 12 weeks if people take the precautionary steps the Government has outlined.

The Government's top scientific advisers have warned young people not to be complacent over Covid-19 as they urged the public to keep up social distancing measures to protect themselves.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the vast majority of people in all age groups would recover but it was a mistake for young people who are healthy to think they would all just "breeze through" the pandemic.

He spoke before latest figures revealed that a further 29 people who tested positive had died in England, taking the UK total to 137.