The Queen: "We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again"

About 24 million TV viewers watched the Queen’s broadcast to the nation on Sunday, according to overnight figures.

In a rare speech, the monarch thanked people for following government rules to stay at home and praised those “coming together to help others”.

The message was seen by 23.97 million viewers, making it the second most-watched broadcast this year.

Boris Johnson’s statement announcing strict new coronavirus restrictions was watched by 27 million last month.

More than 14 million viewers watched the Queen’s message on BBC One, with about five million viewing it on ITV.

Another 2.5 million watched the monarch deliver her rare speech on Channel 4, with more watching on Channel 5, Sky News and the BBC News channel.

Catch-up services are not included in overnight figures.

It was only the fifth time the Queen has given such a speech in her 68-year reign.

Her most recent Christmas Day message drew a combined overnight audience of 7.85 million.

In her speech on Sunday, the Queen said the UK “will succeed” in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

She thanked people for following government rules to stay inside and paid tribute to key workers for their efforts.

Speaking from Windsor Castle, the Queen said the pandemic was a “different” challenge compared to what the nation had faced before.

The message ended with the words “we will meet again” – an apparent reference to Dame Vera Lynn’s bolstering war anthem We’ll Meet Again.

The Queen’s four other special addresses were given in 1991, 1997, 2002 and 2012.

The first was made at the beginning of the land war in Iraq, while the second was given on the eve of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The 2002 address came on the eve of her mother’s funeral, while the 2012 speech marked her Diamond Jubilee.

Sunday’s pre-recorded message was filmed by a single cameraman wearing protective equipment.