Queen Elizabeth has led tributes to veterans of World War Two recalling the “never give up, never despair” message of Victory in Europe Day 75 years ago, as coronavirus dampened VE Day commemorations.
- VE Day — the day when Allied forces accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender — was 75 years ago
- Queen Elizabeth said veterans’ “Never give up, never despair” attitude was applicable today
- Muted commemorations around the UK and elsewhere were observed amid coronavirus precautions
In a rare televised address that brought together the themes of wartime and the coronavirus, the 94-year-old monarch said those who had served during the conflict with Nazi Germany would admire how their descendants were coping with the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
“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,” she said.
On a day that should have been filled with parades and street parties, the national commemorations to herald the day when Allied forces accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender were scaled back after social gatherings were curbed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
But flags and banners still fluttered across Britain, and people stuck at home due to the lockdown enjoyed a day of special television and radio programs.
Britain paid tribute to the war generation with flypasts, a two-minute silence, and the broadcast of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech to mark the anniversary of victory in Europe.
In a short ceremony that had been kept secret to avert the possibility of any crowds gathering, Prince Charles wearing a kilt laid a wreath at the war memorial outside his family’s Balmoral estate in Scotland.
Households across Britain evoked the spirit of the 1940s, some dressing in period costume and hosting tea parties despite the coronavirus lockdown.
Boris Johnson thanks veterans for freedom
Prime Minister Boris Johnson invoked the “heroism of countless ordinary people” in his tribute to the millions of Britons who fought and lived through the war.
“Today we must celebrate their achievement, and we remember their sacrifice,” Mr Johnson said in a national address.
“We offer our gratitude, our heartfelt thanks and our solemn pledge: you will always be remembered.”
‘We’ll meet again’
There were commemorations too across the water in France, where President Emmanuel Macron held the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.