The Queen paid tribute to Britain’s lockdown spirit tonight with an electrifying speech on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, in which she said Second World War heroes would admire the nation’s response to the pandemic.
The 94-year-old monarch, who was 13 when war broke out in 1939, added: ‘It may seem hard that we cannot mark this special anniversary as we would wish. Instead we remember from our homes and our doorsteps.
‘But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other.
‘And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.’
Her words were delivered to the very second that her father, George VI, gave his VE Day speech 75 years ago.
The Queen’s speech was filmed in the white drawing room at Windsor last week, where she and her husband, Philip, 98, who served with distinction in the Royal Navy during the war, are isolating.
The Queen paid tribute to Britain’s lockdown spirit tonight with an electrifying speech on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, in which she said Second World War heroes would admire the nation’s response to the pandemic
The Queen’s address was delivered to the very second that her father, George VI, gave his VE Day speech 75 years ago
As the Queen spoke of the jubilant celebrations which ‘some of us experienced first-hand’, she was no doubt thinking back to her own VE Day adventures as a 19-year-old princess, when she danced in delight outside Buckingham Palace
King George VI waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace as he stands with Queen Elizabeth and their two children Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret during Victory in Europe Day to mark the end of the war in Europe
After the broadcast, the nation was invited to open doors and windows and take part in sing-a-long of Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again, during the BBC’s VE Day 75 show.
The Queen’s words were her second televised address during the coronavirus crisis, and followed her speech to the country on April 5, when she said if Britain remained resolute ‘we will overcome it’.
A picture of her father George VI was next to the Queen on her desk as she spoke to the nation. Her address with black and white footage of her father’s wartime speech.
George, who became king after his brother Edward VIII abdicated, said: ‘Let us remember the men of all the services and the women in all of the services who have laid down their lives.
‘We have come to the end of our tribulation and they are not with us at the moment of our rejoicing.’
Speaking about the start of the war, the Queen, then schoolgirl Princess Elizabeth, said: ‘The outlook seemed bleak, the end distant, the outcome uncertain.
‘But we kept faith that the cause was right – and this belief, as my father noted in his broadcast, carried us through.
‘Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day.
‘I vividly remember the jubilant scenes my sister and I witnessed with our parents and Winston Churchill from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The sense of joy in the crowds who gathered outside and across the country was profound, though while we celebrated the victory in Europe, we knew there would be further sacrifice.’
The then Princess Elizabeth with the King and Queen, her sister, and then Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in May 1945
King George VI relaxing with his daughter Princess Elizabeth during a visit to Natal National Park in South Africa
Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, arriving at the Fourth Birthday Rally of the Girls’ Training Corps, at the Royal Albert Hall after the war in Europe against Nazism and Fascism came to a formal end on May 8, 1945
May 8, 1945 (file photo) – crowds of civilians, British and Allied troops wave and cheer as Winston Churchill (second balcony from left), and members of the Cabinet appear to celebrate the end of the war in Europe, in Whitehall, London
Princess Elizabeth learning vehicle maintenance on an Austin 10 Light Utility Vehicle while serving with No 1 MTTC in Surrey
A pair of Auxiliary Territorial Service overalls and a cap worn by the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, at Buckingham Palace
During the Queen’s address black and white footage was shown of the famous Buckingham Palace balcony moment when the Queen, her family and Sir Winston Churchill acknowledged the crowds.
There were scenes of revellers conga-ing through the streets, others ballroom dancing in celebration and street parties being staged with tables full of food from May 8, 1945.
Even the Queen ventured out with a group of friends, including her sister Princess Margaret, to experience the excitement, with the events forming the basis of the film A Royal Night Out.
The monarch went on to say in her broadcast, screened at the end of VE Day 75, a programme of music and memories: ‘It was not until August that fighting in the Far East ceased and the war finally ended.’
‘Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict. They fought so we could live in peace, at home and abroad. They died so we could live as free people in a world of free nations.’
Today marks the official surrender of Germany to Allied forces in 1945, bringing the war in Europe to an end.
And while large-scale public events could not go ahead, patriotic neighbours battled on, making the best of the situation as they decorated their streets and held tea parties while observing social distancing.
‘Never give up, never despair’: The Queen’s Speech
The Queen paid an emotional tribute to Britain’s lockdown spirit tonight with an electrifying speech on the 75th anniversary of VE Day
I speak to you today at the same hour as my father did, exactly 75 years ago.
His message then was a salute to the men and women at home and abroad who had sacrificed so much in pursuit of what he rightly called a ‘great deliverance’.
The war had been a total war; it had affected everyone, and no one was immune from its impact.
Whether it be the men and women called up to serve; families separated from each other; or people asked to take up new roles and skills to support the war effort, all had a part to play.
At the start, the outlook seemed bleak, the end distant, the outcome uncertain.
But we kept faith that the cause was right – and this belief, as my father noted in his broadcast, carried us through.
Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day.
I vividly remember the jubilant scenes my sister and I witnessed with our parents and Winston Churchill from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
The sense of joy in the crowds who gathered outside and across the country was profound, though while we celebrated the victory in Europe, we knew there would be further sacrifice.
It was not until August that fighting in the Far East ceased and the war finally ended.
Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict.
They fought so we could live in peace, at home and abroad.
They died so we could live as free people in a world of free nations.
They risked all so our families and neighbourhoods could be safe.
We should and will remember them.
As I now reflect on my father’s words and the joyous celebrations, which some of us experienced first-hand, I am thankful for the strength and courage that the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and all our allies displayed.
The wartime generation knew that the best way to honour those who did not come back from the war, was to ensure that it didn’t happen again.
The greatest tribute to their sacrifice is that countries who were once sworn enemies are now friends, working side by side for the peace, health and prosperity of us all.
Today it may seem hard that we cannot mark this special anniversary as we would wish.
Instead we remember from our homes and our doorsteps.
But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other.
And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.
I send my warmest good wishes to you all.
A poignant wreath-laying service and two-minute silence was led by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla from Balmoral
The Prince of Wales bowed his head as he led the two-minute silence from Balmoral at 11am on the 75th anniversary of VE Day
In a heartfelt message to the nation this morning, Boris Johnson – pictured observing a two-minute silence – said ‘our gratitude will be eternal’ to the ‘soldiers, sailors and airmen fought the Nazis with courage, ingenuity and stubborn endurance’
A short service is lead by members from the Inveraray Royal British Legion as they observe a two minute silence on Friday
Officers and soldiers of Household Division observe social distancing as they take part in a two minute silence
A man and woman celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day with a UK-themed party outside their house in Worthing, Sussex
Jane and Toby Lyde, from Tooting, South West London, have pulled out all the stops to decorate their home for VE Day
Ian and Anna Jones, of Launton, Oxfordshire celebrating VE day – and observing lockdown – in style with Hector the hound
Residents on Park Street in Windsor are having a street party to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day today
Residents on Park Street in Windsor are having a street party to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day today
Graham looks on as his wife Sue Gillson untangles a flag on their roof on their home ahead in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire
The Red Arrows treated onlookers to a spectacular display as they flew over London before heading back to RAF Scampton
The Red Arrows – officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – flies over the Queen Victoria Memorial
The Red Arrows carried out a spectacular flypast over London, and Buckingham Palace, on the 75th anniversary of VE Day
The residents of Cambrian Road in Chester dress up in 1945 clothing and have a tea party to mark the 75th anniversary
Miniature schnauzers Jack, 13 (left) and Ringo, five (right), joined their owners in their garden in Emsworth, Hampshire this morning for the two-minute silence – while proudly showing off their fetching Union Jack bandanas
Stella, an adorable cat from Gateshead, dons a Union Jack bow tie for the 75th anniversary of VE Day in the north east
Queen is surrounded by personal wartime mementos during VE Day address including brooches given to her by her father and cap from her time in Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945
By Jack Wright for MailOnline
The Queen was surrounded by historic personal mementos from the war years as she paid emotional tribute to the wartime generation in an electrifying speech on the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Her aquamarine and diamond clip brooches were an 18th birthday present from her father George VI in 1944 – just over a year before the end of the conflict in Europe.
The two art deco-style pieces, which the Queen wore separately, were made by Boucheron from baguette, oval and round diamonds and aquamarines.
She also chose to wear the precious jewellery during her Diamond Jubilee televised speech in 2012 – her only other televised address marking an anniversary.
On the desk in front of her was her Auxiliary Territorial Service khaki-coloured peaked cap – part of her uniform when she undertook National Service in 1945.
Many waved from their balconies and gardens as the RAF staged flypasts, with the Red Arrows soaring over Buckingham Palace and the London Eye and Typhoon fighter jets flying over Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
Boris Johnson urged Britain to take inspiration from the generation that won the world war as he paid tribute in a VE Day video, adding, ‘we owe them everything.’
Veterans and members of the public, unable to gather by their local war memorials, quietly reflected in their own homes as veterans up and down the country led the way in paying their respects to the fallen.
The Prime Minister has also written to veterans, assuring them their efforts will ‘always be remembered’.
In a heartfelt message to the nation this morning, Mr Johnson said ‘our gratitude will be eternal’ to the ‘soldiers, sailors and airmen fought the Nazis with courage, ingenuity and stubborn endurance.’
At 6pm, Katherine Jenkins led the nation in a chorus of wartime songs by Dame Vera Lynn in the Royal Albert Hall for 30 minutes behind closed doors for the first time in the venue’s 150-year-old history,
The Welsh songbird performed songs including We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, while she even duetted virtually 103-year-old troops sweetheart Dame Vera as a young woman.
At Balmoral, Prince Charles led a two-minute silence at 11am to remember the servicemen who had died fighting for the freedom of Britain, its Empire and the territories which became the Commonwealth.
The Prince of Wales, accompanied by his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, wore a Highland Day Dress – a Hunting Stewart kilt – as well as medals.
Charles’ message with his floral tribute read: ‘In everlasting remembrance’. Camilla left a note with her bouquet in memory of her father Major Bruce Shand, who served with the 12th Lancers during the war.
General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, this morning urged the public to ‘spare a thought’ for those stuck at home at a time of celebration as he said the lockdown made it ‘tough’ on veterans.
Katherine Jenkins has led the nation in a chorus of wartime songs by Dame Vera Lynn in an empty Royal Albert Hall today, and even duetted virtually with Dame Vera, as defiant Brits commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day
An officer plays The Last Post on the trumpet during the two minute silence at St James’s Park in London on Friday
Members of the Armed Forces are seen during a service at the Cenotaph, Whitehall to pay tribute to the wartime generation
Veterans sit outside the Care for Veterans site in Worthing, Sussex, to watch a spitfire flypast to mark the VE Day anniversary
World War II veteran Len Gibbon, 96, watches a Spitfire in the distance as it flies over the Care for Veterans site in Worthing
Britons across the nation are commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE Day, which marks the official surrender of Germany to the Allies in 1945 (pictured, children celebrating holding paper planes outside their houses in Altrincham)
Joanna, aged four, waves a Union Jack flag as Royal Navy veteran, Charles Medhurst, 95, walks along his street for a victory parade and his neighbours cheer and clap for the 75th anniversary of VE Day in Greenwich, London
Dame Joan Collins, whose childhood home was destroyed in the Blitz as she slept in a Tube station, leads the Nation’s Toast
Veterans sit outside the Care for Veterans site in Worthing, Sussex, to watch a spitfire flypast to mark the 75th anniversary
Laura Jeffrey, seven, with her face painted in the colours of the Union Jack and eating an ice lolly at a socially-distanced street party in Trevis Road, Southsea, to mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day
Families sit outside during a socially-distanced street party in Newcastle-under-Lyme on the 75th VE Day anniversary
Victory in Europe Day is a ‘very special’ occasion, the beloved 100-year-old veteran Captain Tom Moore has said, as he remembered his comrades from the Second World War.
The NHS fundraising champion said ‘we all need to be very happy’ during celebrations as the UK commemorates a landmark anniversary of ‘the end of a very fearsome war in Europe’.
The Yorkshireman, who was just 20 when he was conscripted, has become a national hero by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, raising more than £32million for the NHS.
After he joined the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 1940, he was posted to India before moving to Burma. He had just returned from Asia and was at an army camp in Bovington, when news of Germany’s surrender came through.
But despite the war ending in Europe, Captain Tom has bittersweet memories of VE Day, having returned to the UK to work as a tank instructor while his friends were still fighting in Asia.
It was another three months until Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘At the time I was very concerned that all my comrades I had left in Burma were still fighting.’
Captain Tom previously said he would be celebrating by having a ‘very peaceful, quiet day, rejoicing the very fact that this did happen so long ago and with so much benefit to everybody’.
The veteran, who was made an honorary colonel to mark his fundraising efforts, added that it is ‘rather sad’ that people will not be able to celebrate the occasion in groups together because of the lockdown.