Queen to lead 70th anniversary VE Day celebrations

The Queen will attend the religious service of commemoration on Sunday May 10
The Queen will attend the religious service of commemoration on Sunday May 10

The Queen will lead the nation at a religious service commemorating the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, when Second World War Allied forces finally defeated Hitler’s Nazi troops on the continent.

The Queen and senior members of the Royal Family will attend the Westminster Abbey service of thanksgiving – the culmination of three days of events marking the milestone.

A chain of beacons will be lit across the country, Spitfire and Lancaster bomber planes will take to the skies and a star-studded concert will be held in London from May 8-10 as part of commemorations marking the 70th anniversary.

On VE Day – May 8, 1945 – the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, famously joined the jubilant victory celebrations in London and danced the conga through the Ritz Hotel before joining crowds outside Buckingham Palace.

Jean Woodroffe, one of the Queen’s first ladies in waiting, when interviewed by the BBC to mark the monarch’s 80th birthday in 2006 said: ‘’What was amusing is that we went into the Ritz hotel through one door and out of the other door, the other end, doing the conga.”

She added: ‘’And then we stood outside Buckingham Palace with the crowd and we all shouted ‘We want the King’ with everybody else until the King and Queen came out onto the balcony.’’

On the first day of the festivities a national two-minute silence will be held at The Cenotaph at 3pm on Friday, May 8, marking the moment prime minister Winston Churchill broadcast his historic speech to formally announce the end of the war.

It will be followed by the lighting of more than 100 beacons, stretching from Newcastle to Cornwall.

The next day cathedrals across the country will ring bells at 11am in celebration.

Stars will also perform at a 1940s-themed concert held on Horse Guards Parade in London in the evening, to be shown on the BBC.

And at the Sunday service the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be joined by veterans and their families, politicians, members of the Armed Forces and representatives of Allied nations and Commonwealth countries that fought alongside Britain.

A parade of bands, veterans and current servicemen and women will then make their way from the Abbey along Whitehall – past the balcony of the Treasury building, where Churchill made his historic speech before vast crowds on VE Day – before a reception in St James’s Park for 2,000 veterans hosted by the Royal British Legion.

That afternoon there will be a fly-past of current and historic aircraft from the RAF, including Hurricane, Spitfire and Lancaster bomber planes from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Vehicles dating from the 1940s will also be on display in St James’s Park.

People are encouraged to enjoy their own celebrations by holding street parties.