To my fellow Countrymen:
The entire world, including our country Russia, is enduring an enormous challenge. An illness is spreading across the globe and a cure for it has yet to be discovered.
In some countries, the virus has already claimed thousands of lives. But even in those countries where the situation is less desperate, there remains the possibility of a rapid explosion in the number of cases. The real danger lies in the fact that carriers of the virus often exhibit no symptoms, but can still transmit the disease, unknowingly, to many other people they encounter.
Just a few short months ago, we celebrated the New Year 2020, wishing each other happiness and making plans for the future. Probably no one expected that our lives would be suddenly and starkly changed, and that all of our plans, cares and problems would recede into the background, replaced by the global task facing each and every one of us: to prevent getting infected with the virus ourselves, and not to become a source of suffering and death for others
In these circumstances, I consider it my duty to turn to you with a request and appeal.
Without despair or panic, and holding firm our faith in Divine protection, hope and optimism, we must be responsible as never before.
We must comply strictly and completely with the instructions of state authorities, doctors and other public health professionals.
We must be grateful to all the various medical professionals, pharmacists, law enforcement agencies, the military, firefighters and other emergency services, clergy, volunteers, store and shop employees and transport workers—everyone who is now working at considerable risk to their lives in order to meet the needs of the public and to strengthen our spirit. We must help them in any way we can and express our deep appreciation for their heroism and self-sacrifice. And we must in no way commit the sin of grumbling or otherwise obstructing the implementation of necessary measures being enacted to prevent the spread of this pandemic.
We can protect ourselves and others from danger by observing the simplest rules: do not leave your homes unless absolutely necessary, wash your hands and disinfect all surfaces, do not touch your face, keep the recommended distance, and limit contacts with others as much as possible.
In observing these small and temporary limitations on our freedom, we may save ourselves and possibly hundreds or even thousands of others.
There surely is no single explanation for why the Lord periodically allows such disasters to occur. But it is very clear that this is a serious life test for each of us. Think what answer we will give to our conscience if, due to our own carelessness, the lives of our parents and relatives, friends, or even strangers we happen upon, are cut short by an illness they contracted from us.
At such times, the words of our Saviour take on special meaning: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48). The young and strong should, fully adhering to sanitary guidelines, step in to help the elderly and the weak who are in need of care and attention. The wealthy and those in positions of power must assume even more social responsibilities and prove by their actions that their privileges and positions serve the interests of society at this trying moment.
The people of Russia have endured many trials and tribulations and have each time saved their country through unity. Let us be united now, even if conditions force us to minimize direct contact with each other.
Let us try to turn this unfortunate situation into something good. Popular wisdom tells us: “There is always a silver lining” and “There is always some blessing in misfortune.” We can hope that the current misfortune might weaken the political and economic competition between nations and unite them to work together to save lives, without regard for religious, national and social differences, because the virus does not make such distinctions, but affects everyone. We can ourselves remember our traditional values and rely on them to bolster our resolve. We can appreciate anew our relationships with those near us or far away and the connections that bind all humanity. We can love and care for our spouses, parents and children, whom we can sometimes take for granted in a world filled with cares and bustle. We can do acts of mercy. We can put the needs of others above our own dreams and aspirations. We can learn from our history the necessary lessons for our future.
I was preparing to visit my homeland in May for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory in World War II. The serious situation in Spain has confined me to Madrid, however, where, as you know, the rate of infection is extremely high and strict quarantine measures have been introduced by the government. As a result, I will not be able to travel outside of Spain in the immediate future. But the one person closest to me, my hope and support, my son and heir, Grand Duke George of Russia, is now in Moscow. It is difficult and sad for me to be apart from him, but I thank God that he—and through him, the Imperial House—can help our homeland in this difficult period, not only from abroad, but also directly inside Russia.
I extend my deepest, most sincere condolences to all who have lost relatives and friends in this pandemic. I pray for the speedy recovery of all those who have become ill, and for the preservation of the health of all.
May Almighty God help us and hasten the hour when the coronavirus pandemic shall end, through the strength of our Faith and Reason.
H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia
Madrid, 16/29 March 2020