What is VE Day and how should we celebrate it?

This Friday is a bank holiday, and the 75th anniversary of VE Day, which marks the end of the fight against Nazi Germany and its allies in Europe.

It was on 8 May, 1945 at 3pm that a radio announcement was made by Prime Minister Winston Churchill that the war in Europe had come to an end, following the fact that Germany had surrendered the day before.

How was VE Day celebrated at the time?

VE Day in 1945 was an extremely emotional day that literally millions of people had been waiting for. There were big celebrations and street parties across the country. Huge crowds gathered in London outside Buckingham Palace, with many people wearing red, white and blue clothing.

The crowds cheered as King George VI and his family came out onto the palace balcony to greet everyone. Among them was Princess Elizabeth, who is now our Queen, and her sister Princess Margaret.

The two later snuck out to celebrate with the crowds afterwards, but did so secretly.

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The Queen has since described it as “one of the most memorable nights of my life”.

Aside from this there were also lots of church services, with St Pauls Cathedral holding 10 services which thousands of people attended.

However, it was not quite the end of the war, as fighting was still happening in countries outside of the continent such as Japan.

How can you celebrate VE Day?

Before lockdown began, the government moved the traditional Early May Bank Holiday from 4 May to 8 May so as to accommodate a wide range of celebrations across the UK, including a veterans' parade and many street parties.

Social distancing measures mean those have been called off. However there are some highlights on television including at 10 50 am a televised service in Westminster, where the Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will be laying a wreath on behalf of the Houses of Commons, while Lord West will lay a wreath on behalf of the House of Lords.

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Additionally at 3pm Churchill's speech will be broadcast on television and those watching will be asked to stand for a national toast and raise a glass, as the famous politician says: "To those who gave so much, we thank you”.

The queen will also dress the nation in a pre-recorded message at 9pm, the exact time King George VI gave a radio speech 75 years before.

Aside from these televised moments, why not have a socially distance party of your own with housemates or family members you live with… or just very British afternoon tea!

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