Another warm tribute to the men and women who fought or served during the war was paid by the King when, for the second time in three months, he went yesterday to the Palace of Westminster to receive the congratulation of Parliament on the victory over the last of his enemies.
The ceremony took place in the Royal Gallery. The King and Queen were accompanied by the Princesses.
The addresses were delivered to the King by the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker. In his reply, his Majesty said: “Together with all the freedom-loving peoples of the world, we rejoice in the surrender of the last enemy, Japan.
“This war against Japan has been fought far from the shores of these islands, but I am proud that my people in this country have contributed in full measure to the victory achieved. My peoples and those of my Allies in the Far East are now, thank God, freed from the Japanese yoke, and our prisoners of war and civilian internees can be released from their captivity.
“In this moment of final victory, let us first pay tribute to the Armed forces, to whose courage, endurance and sacrifice our debt is immeasurable.
“Let us remember the debt we can never repay to those who have given their lives that we might live in freedom.
“To the women of Britain I would pay especial tribute. In industry and the Services they have played their full part. In the home they have willingly accepted anxiety and long hours of toil to care for their menfolk and their children in sickness and in health.”
His Majesty’s reply took 14 minutes. It was delivered in a firm, clear voice that could be heard throughout the gallery.
When the King concluded there was a remarkable incident, probably unprecedented, for his final words were followed by a barely subdued rumble of applause, spontaneous in nature and exceptional at the conclusion of a Royal Address. It grew immediately in volume – an unrehearsed and heartfelt tribute from the Lords and Commons to the King.
Then Mr Attlee rose and called for “three cheers for their Majesties and their Royal Highnesses”, which was given with enthusiasm.