What is the significance of the Queen's special address to the nation during the coronavirus crisis?

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

In the 68 years in which she has been Sovereign, there have only been four occasions on which the Queen has made a special address to the nation.

Such is the unprecedented times through which we are all living, on Sunday the Queen will make her fifth.

The televised broadcast about the coronavirus crisis was recorded at Windsor Castle this week and will air on most television channels in the UK at 8pm.

The Queen is staying at Windsor Castle which lit up blue on Thursday in support of NHS staff. Credit: PA

Buckingham Palace called it a "special broadcast" but would not talk in advance about what the Queen said.

There has been a growing demand in recent days for the Queen to acknowledge the suffering which is going on in the UK and around the world.

As well as her official duties as Head of State, she is often called upon to bring the country together in her other role as Head of Nation.

She previously issued a written statement shortly after relocating to Windsor from Buckingham Palace.

The Queen referred to the times in history when the nation had come together.

The Queen greeting crowds of mourners outside Buckingham Palace ahead of Princess Diana's funeral. Credit: PA

She said: "I am reminded that our nation's history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal."

The previously special broadcasts were made in 1991, 1997, 2002, and 2012.

When the land offensive was due to begin at the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, the Queen called on people to unite and pray that the offensive would be "as swift as it is certain".

In 1997, the Queen broadcast live from Buckingham Palace on the eve of Princess Diana's funeral, where she spoke as "your Queen" and "a grandmother" of Princes William and Harry.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh touring the grounds of Stormont in Belfast as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour. Credit: PA

When her mother - the Queen Mother - died in 2002, the Queen addressed the nation in a televised broadcast where she spoke of her mother's "infectious zest for living" a day before her funeral.

And in a happier moment in 2012 - on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee - the Queen said that it had "touched me deeply" to see so many people out celebrating.

As the country enters it's third week of the lockdown, the Queen will address the nation once more.

The number killed by the virus in the UK now stands at 3,605.

Both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are staying in Windsor during the pandemic and are in contact with the smallest number of staff as possible.

Last night, the Round Tower at Windsor Castle was lit up in blue to show support for the NHS as the country took part in the second, nationwide round of applause for the NHS and other key workers.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know