The Queen's MESSAGing masterclass
Updated: Apr 13
The Queen of England is not exactly a YouTube sensation. At 93 she does television broadcasts at Christmas but she is not usually a 27 million views type gal. It took a pandemic for her to take to the screen but that's what she did on April 5th 2020.
We know that only one cameraman in protective dressing was allowed in to film her and we may never know how much help she took in writing her speech but it was genius .
It was simply and quietly delivered to a nation she characterised as showing "self-discipline, quiet good-humoured resolve and fellow-feeling". Her audience was the whole country but she chose to send an almost secret message to those for whom the virus is most dangerous - the elderly.
"Better days will return," said the Queen. "We will be with our friends again: we will be with our families again; we will meet again."
She knew that any Brit over the age of 55 would recognise those last words instantly but for those in their 80s or 90s it went straight to the heart.
"We'll meet again" is one of he most iconic songs of the Second World War. Sung by Vera Lynn, herself aged 103 and known back then as " The Forces Sweetheart."
It could have seemed obvious and corny but it was the way it was said, the tiny word change and the intonation of her voice that made the difference.
In the original song it is sung like this:
WE'LL ( pause ) meet again
Her Majesty said it like this:
We will MEET (pause) again
Changing the emphasis and the pause is a thoughtful way of changing meaning. In this case it pays respect to the original but takes the words away from sounding hackneyed.
It came after the words " We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again." - these by themselves are ordinary, everyday comforting words which all of us are thinking and saying. But ending with the words,״We will meet again״ drew on the Blitz spirit of the The Second World War in a way that made the whole both evocative and majestic.
This is an example of a speaker really knowing her audience and caring deeply enough about her message to those who most need our care now. Glorious.
Watch the speech here: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-52183327
Hear the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5C4meGkNyc