April 11 (UPI) -- Queen Elizabeth called for "new hope" amid the coronavirus pandemic Saturday in her first audio Easter message.
Easter services across Britain -- and much of the world -- were canceled to curb the pandemic, but the 93-year-old monarch said the holiday's message of "new hope and fresh purpose" wasn't, as she urged people to focus on the message.
"This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe," she said. "But Easter isn't canceled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this."
The queen said Easter and other religious festivals celebrate the act of "light overcoming darkness."
"Such occasions are often accompanied by the lighting of candles," she said. "They seem to speak to every culture, and appeal to people of all faiths, and of none. They are lit on birthday cakes and to mark family anniversaries, when we gather happily around a source of light. It unites us.
"We know that coronavirus will not overcome us," she added. "As dark as death can be -- particularly for those suffering with grief -- light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future."
The queen recorded the message at Windsor Castle and released it Saturday so she would not overshadow religious leaders' traditional Easter messages.