“Never give up, never despair: that was VE Day’s message,” said the monarch. “I vividly remember the exultant scenes that my sister and I attended with our parents and Winston Churchill from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.”
Recognizing the impact on modern British life of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced this year’s public commemorations to be canceled, he also drew parallels between the UK wartime generation and their modern compatriots.
“Today it may seem difficult not to be able to celebrate this special anniversary as we would like. Instead we remember from our homes and doors,” he said at the end of his speech. “But our paths are not empty; they are full of the love and care we have for each other.
“When I look at our country today and see what we are willing to do to protect and support each other, I proudly say that we are still a nation that those brave soldiers, sailors and aviators would recognize and admire,” added the Queen.
The monarch’s message was broadcast 75 years a minute after his father, King George VI, gave a radio address to the country in which he praised a “great liberation” and announced that “Germany, the enemy that brought the whole war to war Europe has finally been overcome. “
On May 8, 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill also announced to the British nation that the Germans had “signed the unconditional surrender act”. Churchill concluded his speech by saying, “Advance Britannia, long live the cause of freedom, God save the king.” On this day – VE Day – Buckingham Palace was a focal point of the celebrations.
“At first, the prospect seemed bleak, the distant end, the uncertain outcome,” said the Queen on Friday, thanking the UK, the Commonwealth and other allied nations for their efforts. “But we continued to believe that the cause was right – and this belief, as my father noted in his broadcast, carried us forward.”
The speech marked the second time that the 94-year-old monarch has approached the country since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic – usually a rare event saved only for his annual Christmas day message.
The queen recalled much more exultant scenes 75 years ago. “The sense of joy in the crowds that gathered outside and across the country was profound,” he said.
Elizabeth, then a 19-year-old pending monarch, celebrated with her family and Churchill at Buckingham Palace before dating her sister, Princess Margaret, to join the crowd celebrations in London in 1945.
“I remember the ranks of unknown people linking their arms and walking along Whitehall, all dragged together on a flood of happiness and relief,” he recalled the day in a 1985 clip shared again by the royal family last Friday. “After passing through Green Park, we stood outside and shouted, ‘We want The King!’ and we got to see my parents on the balcony … I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life. “
Much of the country observed two minutes of silence on Friday and Johnson tweeted that the nation’s gratitude for those who fought in the war will be “eternal”. The Red Arrows visualization team conducted an overpass in London.
About 70 million people fought in the armed forces of the allied nations and the Axis during the Second World War, with estimates of total deaths ranging from 40 to 85 million.
VE Day marked the moment when Germany officially surrendered, ending the fighting in the European theater. The conflict continued in Asia and the Pacific until the Japanese surrender on August 15th.
“The wartime generation knew that the best way to honor those who had not returned from the war was to make sure it didn’t happen again,” said the Queen in her Friday speech. “The biggest tribute to their sacrifice is that the countries that were once sworn enemies are now friends, working side by side for the peace, health and prosperity of all of us.”
Hilary McGann of CNN contributed to this report.
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