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Why is the Queen's Speech such a big deal?

Last weekend, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation with a speech about the Coronavirus epidemic.

Though the address was only a few minutes long, the Queen offered some rousing words on stoicism and endurance.

"Together we are tackling the disease", she stated.

"I want to assure you that if we remain united and resolute, we will overcome it."

The viewing figures for Sunday evening's speech are not yet known, but are currently estimated to be as high as 22 million - the video has also received over 900,000 views on Youtube.

This is not the first time that Britain's head of state has addressed the public during a time of crisis, and it is unlikely to be the last.

So what makes these brief speeches so significant?

For those who live in the UK, the Queen's speech is a social ritual that takes place at set times throughout the year, most notably on Christmas Day and on the opening of Parliament.

In 2019, 7.85 million Britons tuned in to watch the Queen's annual Christmas speech.

Each address is unique. Often, they communicate sentiments of unity or goodwill, with occasional references to Britain's history or the Queen's own Christian faith.

Whilst she may be the most recognisable, Queen Elizabeth is certainly not the first monarch to speak to the nation in this way.

The tradition began with her Grandfather, George V, who first addressed the public via radio on Christmas Day in 1932.

It then continued with his son, the Queen's father George VI, whose speech to mark the beginning of World War II was immortalised in the 2010 film The King's Speech.

From then on, it became a tradition for the reigning monarch to reassure the country during times of hardship, both to boost morale and to keep the Royal Family in the public eye.

Since her coronation in 1952, the Queen has made five historic speeches to mark important or disastrous national events.

The first was given on the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991, followed by another shortly after the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997.

She also gave a speech after the death of her "beloved mother" - otherwise known as the Queen Mother - in 2002, as well as on her diamond Jubilee in 2012, during which she celebrated 60 years on the throne.

There are those, however, who find these events less than helpful.

Some commentators criticise the monarch for offering words rather than action during a crisis, referring to the ritual as "show without substance".

Nethertheless, the fact remains that each address possess a unique power to unite and comfort the entire nation.

As royal biographer Ingrid Seward puts it, these broadcasts demonstrate that the Queen remains "remarkably unchanged and unchangeable" during the most confusing of times.

As such, the monarchy are able assist the people of Britain in maintaining that famed wartime sentiment: "keep calm and carry on".

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