Queen to give second televised address during pandemic as she marks VE Day anniversary

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

The Queen is to give her second televised address during the coronavirus outbreak as she prepares to lead the nation in marking the anniversary of VE Day.

The 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) is on 8 May, and there were grand plans for the event – but they have had to be scaled back because of social distancing guidelines.

After her broadcast, the public will be invited to join a moment of celebration and thanksgiving by taking part in a rendition of forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again, during a BBC One programme of music and memories.

The Queen rarely gives televised addresses other than her annual Christmas message, but spoke at the beginning of April to lift the nation’s spirits.

Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, making a broadcast with her sister Margaret to the nation's children in 1940. (Getty Images)

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Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, announced a new programme of events to replace the plans for a veterans’ procession and street parties.

He 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 Queen’s pre-recorded message will air at 9pm on 8 May, the exact time her father, George VI, gave a radio address on the same day in 1945.

Before the message at the beginning of April, the Queen had only given four addresses outside her Christmas message during her whole reign.

The Queen's last message was beamed around Piccadilly Circus. (Getty Images)

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Other members of the Royal Family will be involved in the new plans to mark the anniversary.

Prince Charles will read an extract from his grandfather King George VI’s diary from 8 May, 1945, that describes VE Day, including the Royal Family’s memorable Buckingham Palace balcony appearances.

Veterans and those who served on the home front will take part in a series of video calls with members of the Royal Family, Boris Johnson and the culture secretary, with first minister of Wales Mark Drakeford hosting calls with veterans in Wales.

The commemorations will begin at 11am on 8 May, which this year is a bank holiday, with a national moment of remembrance and a two-minute silence.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) will encourage people of all generations to take part.

One of the Queen's last engagements before lockdown was the Commonwealth Day Service. (Getty Images)

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Bob Gamble, the RBL’s 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.”

He added: “There are many parallels between the struggles of the Second World War and what we are going through today.

“As we mark 75 years since Victory in Europe, we look to our Second World War generation to learn from their experiences, and the Legion continues our critical work to protect them from the threat we currently face.”

VE Day on 8 May, 1945, marked the formal acceptance of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender by Britain and its allies following almost six years of brutal warfare.

Crowds outside Buckingham Palace for VE Day. (Getty Images)

The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, went out into the streets to celebrate with her younger sister Princess Margaret.

The government moved the early May bank holiday from 4 May to 8 May this year in order to have celebrations across the country, but they have all been postponed due to social distancing..