The Queen's praise for a nation that WWII veterans would still 'recognise and admire'

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

It is rare for the Queen to give a national televised addressed so it is a measure of the times we are living through that has now delivered two of them in the space of a little over a month.

Before this pandemic invaded our shores, the Queen has only address had only given this kind of address on four previous occasions in her 68 year reign.

But from one of the few people still alive who can remember the Second World War, this Queen was not going to let the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day pass without speaking to the country about what she called the "total war" which had affected a nation and, at that time, much of the British Empire.

Buckingham Palace chose 9pm for her broadcast - the same time as her father delivered a national address, on the radio, on 8 May 1945.

King George VI was speaking to a war-weary nation who had lost so many loved ones and those who had survived were living amongst the ruins of Hitler's ferocious bombing campaign on Britain's biggest cities.

"No one was immune from its impact," said the Queen on Friday, as she spoke in a recorded message from Windsor Castle.

She is staying in Berkshire during the UK's battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

So she wasn't in Buckingham Palace today - where she had planned to be - to watch a parade by veterans and to see a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

She had also planned to attend a service of prayers and thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey.

Buckingham Palace chose 9pm for her broadcast - the same time as her father delivered a national address, on the radio, on 8 May 1945. Credit: ITV News

So instead of the crowds outside the Palace today, there were cyclists, making the most of the quiet streets of lockdown London.

They paused for the nationwide two minute's silence at 11am - but there was nothing else to remind anyone in central London of the VE Day commemorations.

The priority, which the Queen fully supports, was the government's advice for everyone to stay at home.

"Never give up, never despair - that was the message of VE Day," the Queen said and they are words which might also apply to the national effort to protect the NHS and save as many lives from this virus as possible.

The Queen spoke too of the "jubilant scenes" and the "sense of joy" which she famously witness first hand in 1945 - after slipping out of the Buckingham Palace gates that VE Day evening in her Army uniform to join in with the celebrations.

  • Click play to watch the Queen's address to the nation on VE Day

She'd been watching them all afternoon from the Palace balcony where her father and mother, King George and Queen Elizabeth, returned again and again to wave to the excited crowds.

The Queen said she had reflected on her father's words, 75 years on, and spoke of her thanks for the "strength and courage" that had been shown in those difficult war years.

"The best way to honour those who did not come back," she said, "was to ensure that it didn't happen again."

But given the unprecedented period through which we are all living, the Queen could not end without mentioning the way the pandemic has changed out lives - and changed the way we intended to mark this VE Day anniversary.

"Our streets are not empty," she reflected, "they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other."

And as she looks at the UK in 2020 and how people have been protecting and supporting one another, the Queen ended with this: "I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire."