Queen to lead lockdown VE Day celebrations with special address to the nation after events get cancelled

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Public celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Second World War were cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The Queen is set to lead VE Day celebrations next Friday with a special address to the nation

But families are being urged to put up celebration bunting indoors and join together singing WWII song We’ll Meet Again – in a nationwide celebration inspired by Clap For Carers.

The plans for the 75th anniversary next Friday, which has been made into Bank Holiday, include a replay of Winston Churchill’s victory speech.

Prince Charles will read an extract from King George VI’s diary penned on VE Day.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson will join royals to make surprise video calls to veterans who have been denied a heroes procession through London due to the lockdown.

The Queen’s 9pm address will be her second speech in a month during the coronavirus crisis – but the address is expected to focus heavily on VE Day rather than the pandemic.

It will be timed at the exact moment King George gave a radio speech in 1945.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the greatest generation that served in combat and on the home front during the Second World War.

“Whilst we now need to celebrate VE 75 in our homes and on our doorsteps, rather than in parades and street parties, I know the nation will come together to mark this historic occasion.

“In these difficult times, acts of remembrance are even more poignant and I am sure that millions will want to join me to remember and give thanks to those who gave so much to secure peace, freedom and prosperity in Europe.”

The official commemorations will begin at 11am with a national moment of remembrance and a two minute silence.

As part of a day-long BBC VE Day special, extracts from Sir Winston Churchill’s victory speech will recreate the moment peace in Europe was announced at 3pm.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also speak about the importance of VE Day.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has recorded a special reflection and moment of prayer.

Her Majesty’s speech will be timed to the exact moment King George VI gave a radio speech in 1945
Celebrations will include a replay of Winston Churchill’s victory speech and a nationwide sing-a-long to Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again
VE Day marked the official end to the war in Europe, bringing huge numbers out on to the streets to celebrate victory

It will be followed by a nationwide sing-a-long to Vera Lynn’s wartime favourite We’ll meet again.

It comes after the Queen evoked the wartime spirit in her coronavirus address on April 4 when she echoed the wartime song vowing to families split by the lockdown that “we will meet again”.

Households, who have led incredible Clap for Carers across the nation every Thursday, are urged to open their doors and join in with a “national moment of celebration”.

HEROIC TALES OF WAR

Families can download a 1940’s street party kit from the The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) website. It includes bunting, wartime recipes and games for children.

Street parties have been forced to cancel due to government social-distancing rules.

NHS volunteers who signed up during the coronavirus crisis will be calling up veterans – who will share their heroic tales of the war.

Historian and broadcaster Dan Snow will host history lessons for children from Monday May 4.

All UK historical records available on ancestry.co.uk will be free for the public from next Monday until Sunday May 10 to allow families to search for war hero relatives.

The Royal British Legion is streaming wartime stories and memories on its website.

Bob Gamble OBE, Royal British Legion’s Assistant Director of Commemorative Events, said: “As we face some of the most challenging times since the Second World War, now more than ever it is important to unite in recognition of people’s service to the nation, just as communities did 75 years ago.

“With members of the public unable to attend VE Day 75 events, we are calling on people across the UK to mark the anniversary from home and take part in these national moments of remembrance and thanksgiving.

“There is no right or wrong way to take part in the Silence at 11am, some people may wish to stand at their windows or step outside their front door, but we hope that individuals and families across the UK will embrace the opportunity to share in a national moment of reflection.”

The BBC will screen a string of VE Day-themed shows across TV and radio including Antiques Roadshow and One Show.

Tony Hall, Director General, says: “At a time when many are looking for unity and hope, the BBC will bring households together to remember the past, pay tribute to the Second World War generation, and honour our heroes both then and now.”

Tony Hall promises ‘the BBC will bring households together to remember the past, pay tribute to the Second World War generation, and honour our heroes both then and now’

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