Exactly 75 years after her father King George VI's historic broadcast marking the end of the Second World War, the Queen gave her own moving address to the nation. Speaking from Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating since March, Her Majesty drew parallels between the wartime generation and those now facing the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. And she spoke of her pride in people’s determination to overcome it.
WATCH: The Queen's VE Day speech
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Planned commemorations had been drastically scaled back because of the outbreak, but the Queen said: "Our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other." She also reflected on the sacrifice of those who died fighting for peace and the "joyous celebrations" of VE Day, which she witnessed both from the balcony of Buckingham Palace and from the streets below, where she walked unrecognised with her sister Princess Margaret on 8 May 1945.
The Queen wore brooches given to her by her father
She was filmed in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, sitting at a desk bearing a photograph of her father King George VI in his Admiral of the Fleet uniform and her Auxiliary Territorial Services cap, a reminder of her own wartime service.
Aged 18, the then Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS as a driver and mechanic in 1945, holding the ranks of Second Subaltern and later Junior Commander.
On a table behind her was a photograph of her in her ATS uniform on the Palace balcony with her parents the King and Queen and her sister Princess Margaret on VE Day. And in another touching nod to her father, the monarch chose to wear a pair of Boucheron aquamarine and diamond clip brooches that he gave her for her 18th birthday.
Charles and Camilla during a moment of remembrance
Official commemorations begun earlier in the day at 11am when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall led the nation with a moment of remembrance. The heir to the throne also read an extract from King George VI's diary from 8 May 1945 which describes the day, including the royal family's iconic Buckingham Palace balcony appearances.
Other members of the royal family also took part in a series of video calls with Second World War veterans and those who served on the home front. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke to residents and staff at a Royal British Legion Care Home in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex earlier this week.
The Queen's speech in full
"I speak to you today at the same hour as my father did, exactly 75 years ago. His message then was a salute to the men and women at home and abroad who had sacrificed so much in pursuit of what he rightly called a 'great deliverance'.
"The war had been a total war; it had affected everyone, and no one was immune from its impact. Whether it be the men and women called up to serve; families separated from each other; or people asked to take up new roles and skills to support the war effort, 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 - 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.
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The King and Queen with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret on VE Day in 1945
"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. It was not until August that fighting in the Far East ceased and the
war finally ended. Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict. 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. They risked all so our families and neighbourhoods could be safe. We should and will remember them.
"As I now reflect on my father's words and the joyous celebrations, which some of us experienced first-hand, I am thankful for the strength and courage that the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and all our allies displayed. The wartime generation knew that the best way to honour those who did not come back from the war, was to ensure that it didn't happen again.
"The greatest tribute to their sacrifice is that countries who were once sworn enemies are now friends, working side by side for the peace, health and prosperity of us all. 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.
"And 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. I send my warmest good wishes to you all."
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