Queen celebrates unity in Commonwealth address, ahead of Harry and Meghan interview

Queen Elizabeth praised the “renewed sense of closeness” the coronavirus pandemic has brought to communities around the world in a video message released Sunday to mark Commonwealth Day.

She praised the “courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty” of front-line health-care and public service workers across the Commonwealth in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have also taken encouragement from remarkable advances in developing new vaccines and treatments,” she said in a rare televised address to mark the day.

“The testing times experienced by so many have led to a deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy by being connected to others,” she added.

In the message, pre-recorded at Windsor Castle, the Queen also talked about the importance of maintaining connections with family and friends using “innovative technology.”

“Increasingly, we have found ourselves able to enjoy such communication as it offers an immediacy that transcends boundaries or division, helping any sense of distance to disappear,” she said.

The broadcast replaces the annual service at Westminster Abbey, which was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In this undated image released on Sunday, Queen Elizabeth signs her annual Commonwealth Day message in St. George’s Hall at Windsor Castle to mark Commonwealth Day. (Steve Parsons/WPA pool/Getty images)

It comes hours before the airing of a two-hour special hosted by TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey in which the Queen’s grandson and his wife, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are set to tell the story behind their tumultuous departure from royal duties.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is African American.

Harry and Meghan are expected to explain, directly to the public for the first time, why they stepped back as working members of the Royal Family during the interview, airing at 8 p.m. ET.

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