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Queen says she is ‘proud’ of nation’s response to coronavirus during VE Day speech

‘Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day’

Peter Stubley
Saturday 09 May 2020 01:02 BST
Queen honours wartime generation as she praises country’s Covid-19 response

The Queen praised the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as she remembered Britain’s sacrifices during the Second World War on the 75th anniversary of VE day.

Elizabeth II paid tribute to the generations of both 1945 and 2020 in a pre-recorded televised address from Windsor Castle.

“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.

The speech was broadcast at 9pm – the same time as her father King George VI’s address to the nation on 8 May 1945.

It began with black-and-white footage of the king saying: “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.”

The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, started the war as a schoolgirl but ended it in uniform as a junior commander with the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

“At the start, the outlook seemed bleak, the end distant, the outcome uncertain,” the Queen said in her message, sitting next to a photograph of her father in Windsor Castle.

“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.”

Black-and-white footage was shown of the famous Buckingham Palace balcony moment when the Queen, her family and Sir Winston acknowledged the crowds.

“Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict,” the Queen said. “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.”

She continued: “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.”

After the broadcast, the nation was invited to open doors and windows and take part in sing-a-long of Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime anthem “We’ll Meet Again”.

It was the Queen’s second televised address during the coronavirus outbreak, following her speech to the country on 5 April.

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