Queen Elizabeth II is to address Britain and the Commonwealth on Friday, May 8 as she leads the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. On May 8, 1945, victory over Nazi Germany was declared in Europe marking the end of the Second World War.
While celebrations for the milestone have been pared back amid the coronavirus crisis the Queen’s address will be a highlight.
The televised address which will be pre-recorded at Windsor Castle will be broadcast by the BBC at 9pm on Friday.
One royal expert has explained how the Queen’s very personal link to the historic anniversary sets her apart from other sovereigns.
The Queen became a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1945 at the age of 18 and is the only surviving monarch in the world to have served in the Second World War.
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Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams explained why Friday’s speech will be so significant.
He told Express.co.uk: “The Queen will address the nation on the 75th anniversary of VE Day when three days of celebrations were originally planned to mark victory in Europe in 1945.
“This will be a truly unique occasion, at a time of crisis, the only surviving head of state in the world who served in the War will reminisce, as well as summon up the spirit which helped to win the war and thus lift the country’s morale in its fight against an invisible killer.
“The broadcast is likely to contain footage when a million people celebrated in front of Buckingham Palace where the King and Queen and the princesses appeared several times and they were also joined by Churchill.”
He added: “Princess Elizabeth, who was 19 and her sister Princess Margaret who was 14, famously joined the celebrating crowds after dark accompanied by guards officers.
“Their celebrations involved dancing a conga through the Ritz Hotel and chanting in front of the Palace.
“Princess Elizabeth was wearing her uniform, that of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. Her sister described the occasion as a ‘wonderful sunburst of glory’.
“In 1995 when the 50th anniversary of VE Day was celebrated, a Lancaster bomber dropped poppies in front of the Palace.”
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Mr Fitzwilliams added: “The May Bank Holiday was moved, for the first time, to create a three day holiday.
“The intention this time had been for 20,000 pubs to specially arrange to
toast the occasion, bells to peal and the May Bank Holiday was moved to Friday, May 8 to facilitate this celebratory break.
“The Queen will undoubtedly look back nostalgically to our victory in a War which included a year in which Britain stood alone fighting for freedom.”
“This enhanced its standing immeasurably in the post-imperial era that followed the war when the Commonwealth was created.
“Without the Queen’s personal commitment to it, it might not have survived and I suspect she will give a tribute to the contribution the countries which comprise it made during the War too.
“The broadcast may also have a religious aspect as her faith has characterised her reign. She is the world’s best known and longest-reigning monarch and together with Prince Philip, she is in a group which is high risk during this pandemic.
“She has released a statement about it, made a broadcast from Windsor watched by 24 million people and also given her first recorded Easter Message very recently.
“Friday’s broadcast will be a significant moment. Listening to the Queen on an occasion like this, will make people feel they are walking with history.
“The nation will be unable to celebrate as it normally would have, but it is likely to make us feel pride in our past achievements and to face the future, hard though it may be, with more confidence.”
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