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Watch: Queen Elizabeth II asks public to remain united amid coronavirus pandemic

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II addresses the nation in a rare address amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II addresses the nation in a rare address amid the coronavirus pandemic.   -   Copyright  Buckingham Palace via AP
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Queen Elizabeth II compared the unfolding coronavirus pandemic to World War II in an address to the British public on Sunday.

The Queen has rarely addressed the public outside of her Christmas broadcast and said the address reminded her of the “very first broadcast” she made with her sister in 1940 speaking to children evacuated from their homes.

“Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do,” the British monarch said.

The Queen, whose son Prince Charles recently recovered from the new disease, thanked the UK's National Health Service (NHS) and care workers treating people on the frontline.

She recognised the challenges facing the British public and the "time of disruption" that has brought grief and financial difficulties to many.

"I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any," the Queen said.

"That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country."

The UK government ordered British citizens to stay at home on March 23 to help prevent the further spread of the virus which can cause serious illness in some people.

More than 47,000 people in the UK have tested positive for COVID-19 and nearly 5,000 people have died.

“While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour,” the Queen said.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far infected over 1.2 million people and killed more than 68,000 worldwide.