Jacinda Ardern opens up about The Queen's heartwarming call to check in on New Zealand

As the lockdown lifted on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern managed to carve out the time to speak to the Queen.

"A few days ago we got a wee note to say that the Queen wanted to catch up and see how everyone in New Zealand was getting on in the midst of Covid-19," Ardern posted on Instagram.

She said it was "such a treat" to speak to the 94-year-old monarch.

"Her affection for New Zealand, her interest in what's happening here and her memory of places and events that are special to us never ceases to amaze me."

With just 239 active Covid cases in the country, New Zealand is now the focus of headlines in the UK, USA and Australia.

The Daily Telegraph in the UK reported New Zealand being on the verge of a "brilliant victory" and Australia's mass-market news.com website said New Zealand had won a major battle. The New York Times and Washington Post have both featured articles on how New Zealand is combating the threat.

Earlier this month, the Queen had urged Kiwis to "kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui" - to be strong, be brave, be steadfast, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

"As people across New Zealand and the Commonwealth are experiencing unprecedented changes to their lives, concerns for family and friends, and financial uncertainty, you are in my thoughts and prayers," she said in a statement to New Zealanders.

"I send my enduring thanks to those who continue to put the service of others above themselves, whether by staying at home, providing essential services or by caring for the most vulnerable."

The Queen turned 94 this month and was forced to scale back the celebrations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She decided against the traditional gun salute on her April 21 birthday, believing it was appropriate as Britain grappled with more than 14,000 deaths relating to the virus.

Typically, blank rounds are fired across London to celebrate special events like anniversaries and birthdays in the royal family.

"Her Majesty was keen that no special measures were put in place to allow gun salutes as she did not feel it appropriate in the current circumstances," a Buckingham Palace source said.

This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.