A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told CNN that Queen Elizabeth sent a congratulatory message to the people of North Korea on their National Day.

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The message was sent on behalf of the Queen by Britain’s Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), “as it has been done before,” the spokesperson said.

The Palace said it is standard practice on other national days around the world. “His Excellency acts on the advice of the FCDO in all deals with other heads of state,” the spokesman said.

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A UK FCDO spokesman said: “As in previous years, HM The Queen has sent a message to the people of the DPRK on their National Day.”

North Korea celebrated its national day – On the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of its founding – on 9 September. The day was marked with a midnight military parade in Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared on a stage in Kim Il Sung Square and greeted the crowd, but there was no mention of him delivering a speech, according to state media outlet Rodong Sinmun.

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North Korean state media KCNA published the message on Monday, reporting that “Kim Jong Un, the President of State Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), received a message of greeting from Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Britain and Northern Ireland, on 7 September.”

According to KCNA, the message read: “As the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea celebrate their National Day, I send my best wishes for the future.”

The notoriously reclusive country severed almost all of its ties with the outside world in 2020 to stem the influx of coronavirus cases. North Korea has not reported a major outbreak of COVID-19, and there has been no sign, although experts are skeptical of Pyongyang’s claim that the country has not seen a single case of the virus.

Most foreign diplomats and aid workers have left the country, citing a lack of goods and extreme restrictions on daily life.

In June, Kim fired several senior officials who failed to implement North Korea’s stringent COVID-19 containment, state news agency KCNA reported. The KCNA said it appeared that some members of the upper echelons of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea had been replaced.