Queen sends anniversary message to Woman’s Hour during Emma Barnett’s first show

The Queen has marked the 75th anniversary of Woman’s Hour by wishing the BBC Radio 4 show “continued success in your important work as a friend, guide and advocate to women everywhere”.

The head of state – who is thought to be a fan of the programme – sent her good wishes to all those involved in the long-running and popular show in a message.

It came as broadcaster Emma Barnett began her first day as Woman’s Hour presenter, taking over from Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray, who both left last year.

Emma Barnett
Emma Barnett

Barnett told listeners: “May I say, as your new presenter of Woman’s Hour, it is an absolute pleasure to be with you, thank you for having me.

“And I’m greatly looking forward to getting to know you and doing this together, because I can’t do it without you.”

Reading the Queen’s message, Barnett said: “As you celebrate your 75th year, it is with great pleasure that I send my best wishes to the listeners and all those associated with Woman’s Hour.

“During this time, you have witnessed and played a significant part in the evolving role of women across society, both here and around the world.

“In this notable anniversary year, I wish you continued success in your important work as a friend, guide and advocate to women everywhere.”

The Queen is thought to be a fan of Woman's Hour. Yui Mok/PA Wire
The Queen is thought to be a fan of Woman's Hour. Yui Mok/PA Wire

The broadcaster said the programme had approached the Queen as “one of the most influential and well-known women in the world” to see if she wanted to mark the 75th anniversary of the show with a message.

Barnett added: “And she is someone who, in this very strange, unsettling and, quite frankly, deeply upsetting time, that millions have been tuning into to hear the words of, and she doesn’t send messages very often.”

During the show The Beatles song Here Comes The Sun, specially recorded for the show by former Spice Girl Mel C, was played.

Actress Imelda Staunton, who will play the Queen in Netflix series The Crown, was also interviewed during the programme.

Graham Norton Show – London
Graham Norton Show – London

Staunton said the Queen “might be an original Spice Girl” as she likened the monarch to the girl group.

She added: “The aspect that’s most important about her is her ability to just be there and be solid for everyone at all times.”

Also interviewed was the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian dual national who has been detained in prison in Iran since 2016 over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

Richard Ratcliffe said she is “counting down the days” until her release from prison and “actually at the moment is OK”.

He added: “Probably, as you say, she’s got nine weeks to go until the end of her sentence officially at the moment, although there’s a second court case hanging over her.

“But for her, she’s focusing on the hope and so counting down the days.

“Hopefully this will not drag on for years more, as perhaps her husband fears.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained

Former Treasury aide Sonia Khan, who was marched out of Downing Street by armed police after being sacked by Dominic Cummings, was also interviewed by Barnett.

She said she was “never given a reason” for her dismissal after she was fired as a special adviser to then chancellor Sajid Javid in August 2019.

“I was called in for a meeting that I wasn’t expecting, and then I think much of that has been reported in the media rightly or wrongly, so I don’t want to get sort of too into that,” she said.

Ms Khan added: “I remember at that time feeling quite strongly that if I’m not given a reason and if there’s a chance that this can happen again, it sets a really bad standard and a precedent.

“Especially for a lot of the advisers who were coming into that Government who were really young at the time, so I felt like I had a real responsibility to them.”

On Sunday, Barnett had tweeted to urge listeners who have “never tried” the programme before to tune in.

“Go on join me… I’ll get the kettle on…,” she said.

On Monday, Naga Munchetty took over from Barnett as the host of BBC Radio 5 Live’s mid-morning programme.

She said she was “absolutely delighted” to be making her debut on the show.