David Beckham and Olivia Colman are Englishness incarnate.
They’re institutions representing institutions. Colman — scooping up BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Academy Awards for her subversive portrayals of monarchy. And for Beckham, former England captain, well, he is football. Its face, its right foot. Nothing more English than that.
But when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, England — and Britain — can only thrive as part of a whole. That was Colman and Beckham’s message to the world on June 27 at Global Goal: Unite for Our Future — The Concert: how core values of global solidarity, unity, and kindness must prevail if we are to have any hope of beating the virus together.
The duo joined a star-studded lineup, hosted by Dwayne Johnson, that included performances from Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Usher, and Coldplay, among many others.
It was the culmination of an immensely successful campaign, during which Global Citizens called on world leaders to support the development and equitable distribution of COVID-19 therapeutics, tests, and vaccines for everyone, everywhere.
After our campaign launched in May, Global Citizens took nearly 800,000 actions — including writing emails and sending tweets to world leaders — to fight COVID-19 and protect the most marginalised people from its impact.
In response to the campaign, under the patronage of European Commision President Ursula von der Leyen, world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists announced more than $1.5 billion in new grants and $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees for a total of more than $6.9 billion pledged to support COVID-19 relief.
The concert was a celebration of that stunning impact — and a moment that Colman and Beckham used to encourage compassion and unity in the face of unprecedented global challenges.
Colman talked about how mental health issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic, emphasising that people who suffer with anxiety, substance abuse disorders, and trauma are particularly vulnerable at this time.
All rise — for Her Majesty the Queen, Olivia Colman 👑— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) June 27, 2020
"Little acts of kindness can make a difference. Don't forget to laugh, express gratitude, and offer someone help." #GlobalGoalUnite
And here's how you can do it — by taking action here: https://t.co/cYJJ1zJHNZpic.twitter.com/V5RWnZR7k4
"We have no idea what the long-term toll of this moment will be for our children and future generations — or any of us really," Colman said. “But we do know that little acts of kindness can make more of a difference. Don't forget to laugh, express gratitude, and offer someone help."
Colman wasn’t the only figurative royalty who graced our presence either — Jennifer Hudson, who will play Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, in the Respect biopic later this year, sang from the top deck of a boat drifting down the Chicago River.
Then in name and nature, Christine and the Queens danced around an eerily empty Grand Palais, in Paris, like it was a private coronation. And there was even representation from the Seven Kingdoms, as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau — hailing from the Lannister royal family in Game of Thrones — called on leaders to protect the environment.
Meanwhile, Beckham reminisced about the barnstorming last minute free kick he scored against Greece in 2001 to send England through to the World Cup finals — “the one thing I remember from that moment was the roar of the crowd,” he said — and how that united voice of supporters can be a powerful force for good.
"The 12th man gets you through a tough moment,” Beckham said. “And over the last month, Global Citizens from around the world have used their voices to call on world leaders to fund critical research and, of course, development of COVID-19 treatments and a vaccine so we can get back to normal as soon as possible.”
David Beckham talking about 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 free kick for England against Greece in 2001… 😘— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) June 27, 2020
Football is back. And soon — when everyone gets access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines — we'll be united again 🤗 #GlobalGoalUnite
Join the team: https://t.co/cYJJ1zJHNZpic.twitter.com/XVLjmr1Ghw
Speaking one after the other, Colman and Beckham called on viewers to come together to enact change. It was a message that spoke to how ancient English institutions — royalty, football, and even the culture of celebrity — have transformed into modern monuments of soft power, and demonstrated how they can be truly effective instruments to inspire global solidarity.
“Tonight, we are united for our future,” Colman said. “Let's all do our bit to look out for one another, our health, and keep fighting for justice, and equality, for all.”
Beckham added: “We need to continue using our voices, stay united, and we can change the world.”.
You can join the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign by taking action here to help ensure everyone, everywhere can access the tools that are vital to putting an end to COVID-19, and mitigate its impacts on the world's most vulnerable people.
You can find out more about COVID-19, what's needed to tackle it, and how it's impacting the lives of people around the world, through our COVID-19 coverage here.