Queen Elizabeth addressed the U.K. on Friday night to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day — her second major televised speech in just over a month.
In a pre-recorded message from Windsor Castle that aired at 9 p.m. on BBC One, the Queen said she spoke “at the same hour” as her father, George VI, did on May 8, 1945, when the Second World War ended in Europe. Her speech held special significance, coming at a time when the country continues its battle against the coronavirus.
“His message then was a salute to men and women at home and abroad who sacrificed so much,” said the Queen. “The war had been a total war. It had affected everyone. All had a part to play. At the start, the outlook seemed bleak; the end, distant; the outcome, uncertain. But we kept faith that the cause was right.”
The Queen continued: “Never give up, never despair: that was the message of VE Day.”
Referencing the country’s current lockdown and the immense death toll from coronavirus, she said, “Today it may seem hard we can’t mark this special anniversary as we would wish. Instead we remember from our homes and doorsteps. But our streets are not empty. They are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other.”
“When I look at our country today and what we’re 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 recognize and admire.”
The Queen’s address followed a BBC primetime special on VE Day, and comes at a vulnerable time for the U.K., which has the second highest death toll from coronavirus in Europe. Her speech in April, only the fifth of its kind during her entire reign, was seen by 24 million viewers, and ended with the words “We will meet again” — a reference to Dame Vera Lynn’s bolstering war anthem “We’ll Meet Again.”
At the end of Friday’s address, Lynn’s anthem was again played, with the country invited to sing along at home.