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Lindy McDowell

In a steadfast, calm message the Queen delivered a wartime-worthy speech no-one could have bettered

Lindy McDowell


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Standing tall: The Queen addresses the nation last Sunday night from Windsor Castle on the coronavirus pandemic

Standing tall: The Queen addresses the nation last Sunday night from Windsor Castle on the coronavirus pandemic

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Standing tall: The Queen addresses the nation last Sunday night from Windsor Castle on the coronavirus pandemic

Do we need a Queen? As we know there are people who have strong views on the matter. Most of us though are generally too busy with everyday life to obsess about whether or not the monarch and her extended family represent an important national resource. Even if we occasionally might query the value-for-money aspect.

Queen Elizabeth II by dint of how she comports herself, her dedication to duty and indeed her longevity is much loved and respected.

As head of state she'd be hard to better. Her wider brood, not so much.

The institution itself provides the country with all that pomp and circumstance the Americans in particular so envy. Tourists love the palaces and the parades. This brings in money.

And to differing degrees the royals fulfil other vital roles such as providing sufficient fodder for gossip magazines, showcasing couture fashions, cutting ribbons, visiting far flung nations, revamping large mansions at public expense and sharing inspirational uplift on social media and fruit skins.

But while much of that often seems like frivolous return for taxpayers' money, this week Her Majesty quietly reminded us of the true value of the role the monarch plays in the nation's life.

On Sunday evening she delivered an address to the nation which, while it may not have had the breathtaking fire of Churchill's "We will fight them on the beaches" or Elizabeth I's "I have the heart and stomach of a king", will still go down in history as a stirring rallying call in desperate times. It only lasted a few minutes. A 93-year-old lady speaking from her sitting room, recalling the war years and echoing that great wartime promise of endurance.

"We'll meet again."

You don't have to be an ardent monarchist to acknowledge the power of the Queen's speech. A call for fortitude and national resolve as the battle against the killer Covid-19 has intensified, it was a unifying message of steadfast and calm.

Nobody else could have done it.

Not Boris, not Charles, not Madonna in her bath, nor Lady Gaga, Gary Lineker, Nicola Sturgeon, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dominic Raab ... not even Chris Whitty.

There's been a lot of talk about how our world will have changed by the time this is all over. The consensus is our priorities and our behaviour will have been vastly transformed.

We won't forget in a hurry (you'd like to think) the courage of the frontline workers in this emergency and the debt the country owes them.

We won't (for a time anyway) take for granted being able to nip down to the shop or the bar. We might find it odd for a while to be in a crowd. We might never shake hands again and will definitely never, ever wish to see another recipe for pasta.

But one of the main changes is also likely to be a lot less public patience with celebs, football players, pundits, experts, influencers, Kardashians, billionaires and Beckhams in their tireless attempts to update us with the banality of their lives. The compass has shifted.

Our real heroes display quiet courage - not Ferraris and butt lift surgery.

The world as we knew it before Covid-19 valued glamour and glitz above graft. Style above substance.

Dutiful was dull. Attention-seeking got attention.

Even within the royal family that was plain to see as the more homespun William and Kate were eclipsed - for a time anyway - by the much more dazzling Meghan and Harry. But look how well that's turned out for the latter...

This week they've revealed or been "compelled" to reveal details of their new charity/self-promotion thingy which will be called Archewell after the Greek word for tone-deaf.

This was not what you'd call sensitive timing. Sunny Malibu where they're now billeted is some considerable social distance from the coronavirus battle of Britain.

Given the awful tragedy of what's been happening back this side of the pond, Harry, prince of the realm, might have chosen a more appropriate time to flag up his future financing plans.

In the midst of crisis who needs a Duke juking his royal duty?

Along with a whole lot of other things I doubt that will be forgotten when lockdown is over.

But his granny's bravura performance this week will be remembered - not least as an example of the monarchy proving its worth.

There was no effusive waffle. Just a steadying, galvanising message at a time of great fear and uncertainty.

A queen delivering what the nation needs.

How Swann's popularity provoked shameful trolls

Robin Swann

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has gone back to working shifts as a doctor to help out fellow medics battling the virus in the South.

Mr Varadkar has handled the crisis impressively and, in a Lucid Talk poll up here, he deservedly got a big approval rating. As did Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann who won most praise from those polled - right across the community. His reward? Vile abuse and threats on social media. It's not his handling of the situation that provokes the trolls. It's Mr Swann's popularity.

So sorry for Carrie in virus nightmare

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Carrie Symonds

Carrie Symonds

Carrie Symonds

Boris Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds has been through hell of late. First Boris came down with the coronavirus, then she got it too which must be a desperately worrying experience for a pregnant woman concerned about the welfare of her child. Then Boris was admitted to intensive care this week, fighting for his life. He's thankfully on the mend now. But Carrie must be at her wits' end. I feel so sorry for her. Nobody deserves this.

Even washing damned groceries is our new germ-busting normality

Aggie and Kim are finally coming into their own. Even if - wouldn't you know it - their germ-busting partnership has been long since fractured by feud and washing of dirty linen in print and on reality TV.

Before it all went down the (disinfected) drains they had their own show dispensing advice on sprucing up the home with particular attention to eliminating unseen bacteria.

These days we're all Aggie and Kim.

Who would have thought there would come a day when we'd wash the groceries as soon as we got them in the door?

Supermarkets are doing a roaring trade but it must be concerning for bosses looking to the long term that customers have come to view their stores as places of potential contagion.

By the time you leave a store these days you feel like you're hotching with germs.

In the smaller food shops meanwhile, there's a problem with navigation.

There's one near me with the usual sign asking people to keep two metres apart. The problem is the mathematics.

The aisles in the shop aren't actually two metres wide. So when you meet a fellow customer coming the other way you've got to flatten yourself against the shelves to allow them to sidle past.

Nobody's actually shopping. People are just trying to avoid each other.

And back home do we need to wash the shopping bags? I've put some of those big recyclable bags in the washing machine and they came out grand. But should I be doing this? Am I just contaminating the machine?

Where's Aggie and Kim when you need them?

Belfast Telegraph