UK plans mass singalong for locked-down VE Day


LONDONUnited Kingdom (AFP) — Britons will be urged to join a national singalong from their doorsteps and hold 1940s-style tea parties to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day or Victory in Europe Day, under a coronavirus-appropriate programme unveiled Wednesday.

(FILE) Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a service of national thanksgiving to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe, at Westminster Abbey in London on May 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Queen Elizabeth II will make a televised address to the nation on May 8 to mark the day the Nazis surrendered, bringing an end to World War II in Europe.

It will be followed by a national rendition of Vera Lynn’s wartime classic “We’ll Meet Again”, in which the government said “the public will be encouraged to open their doors and join in”.

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, conduct a flypast as members of the armed forces and veterans muster on Horse Guards Parade in central London on May 10, 2015 during an armed forces and veterans’ parade to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), the end of the Second World War in Europe. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo by BEN STANSALL / AFP)

The original plans for street parties and veterans parades fell foul of stay-at-home orders imposed across Britain last month to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, senior royals and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will take part in a series of video calls with veterans, and the government has drawn up a programme of events that can be enjoyed from people’s homes.

Picture taken on May 8, 1945 of the band of the Metropolitan Police providing music to celebrate the VE Day, Victory in Europe Day of World War II, by the Allies over Germany, on Trafalgare Square, in London. (Photo by – / various sources / AFP)

It has produced guidance on how to hold a 1940s tea party, from templates for homemade bunting to authentic recipes for spam hash — using tinned pork, potatoes and onions — and egg-less cakes.

“In these difficult times, acts of remembrance are even more poignant,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said.

“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 message will be delivered at 9:00 pm (2000 GMT), the same time that her father, king George VI, gave a radio address marking VE day in 1945.

Her son and heir, Prince Charles, will also read an extract from the king’s diary from the day, which covers the royal family’s appearances at the balcony of Buckingham Palace as crowds celebrated on the streets below.

That evening, the young queen — then known as Princess Elizabeth — and her sister Margaret were given permission to leave the palace and join the festivities.