The Queen will praise the fortitude of the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic this evening, just hours before Meghan’s bombshell interview is aired.
In a rare personal message as part of a Commonwealth Day television special, the monarch – supported by five senior Royals – will pay tribute to the way communities and countries united to support each other.
Footage of her walking last week down an avenue of Commonwealth flags in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, where Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception was held, will also feature.
Queen Elizabeth II walks past Commonwealth flags in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle , to mark Commonwealth Day, March 5, 2021
Dressed in a delphinium blue dress and jacket, she wore her sapphire chrysanthemum brooch in a touching gesture to Prince Philip, who is still in hospital recovering from heart surgery. She wore it in their honeymoon photographs and again for their commemorative wedding anniversary portrait last November.
Prince Charles, filmed giving an address in Westminster Abbey, will also applaud the ‘extraordinary determination, courage and creativity’ of people in the face of ‘heart-breaking suffering’, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge praise healthcare workers from around the world.
While the Royals’ appearance in the BBC programme, airing at 5pm today, was planned some time ago, its timing just hours before Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey goes out in North America is undeniably awkward.
Prince of Wales during his engagement which will appear in the Commonwealth Day programme on Sunday. March 6, 2021
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during there virtual engagement which will appear in the Commonwealth Day programme on Sunday. March 6, 2021
The Family’s broadcast was suggested by the Royal Commonwealth Society and Westminster Abbey in early January because they recognised this year’s Commonwealth Day Service would be cancelled due to lockdown.
The Queen then agreed to narrate her annual Commonwealth message, usually printed in the service programme.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, talking to Clare Balding about children’s literacy, were filmed in Westminster Abbey, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, were filmed on video calls talking to medical and charity staff from South Africa, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Australia and Malawi. Harry and Meghan, who handed back their roles as Commonwealth ambassadors, do not feature.
Countess of Wessex during her virtual engagement which will appear in the Commonwealth Day programme on Sunday. March 6, 2021
In an extract from the programme, A Celebration for Commonwealth Day, Kate and William chat in a video call with Dr Zolelwa Sifumba, an advocate for the rights of health workers in South Africa.
The Duchess tells the medic: ‘Here in the UK there’s been masses of public recognition of the amazing work the front line are doing and it’s sad, almost, that it’s taken the pandemic for the public to really back and support all those working on the front line.’ The Duke of Cambridge has also been making weekly phone calls to NHS staff up and down the country to thank them for their work.
It was at the Commonwealth Day service last year when the Sussexes were last seen with their family.