Classic street parties may be off the agenda, but there are still many ways to mark VE Day while in lockdown.

‘My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It's a victory of the great British nation as a whole.’ Seventy-five years ago today, at 3pm, those were the words with which Winston Churchill announced victory in Europe after six-years of devastating warfare against the Axis powers. Hitler was, finally, defeated.

Not only does 2020 mark a milestone anniversary, but the extreme sacrifices the nation made resonate especially this year as we face the most significant crisis since that time. Seven weeks into lockdown, it is a timely reminder that our grandparents lived through war for some six years, and surrendered not only their usual freedoms, their livelihoods and their economy, but, in many cases, their lives and their loved ones. That is not to belittle the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic or play down the sacrifices we make now, but rather to underline the point: we will overcome.

In the days when, unlike 75 years ago, you can’t fling your arms round a stranger and rejoice, here are a few ways to mark the occasion.

The Nation Remembers at 11 a.m.

Take a moment to hold two-minutes’ silence in respect for all those who paid the ultimate price to defend against the powers of dictatorship and fascism. BBC One leads, with ensuing tributes to heroes past and present.

Listen to Churchill’s VE Day Speech, BBC 1, 14.45 p.m.

As part of Sophie Raworth’s special tribute to the Second World War generation, which features personal testimonies and VIP readings, you can listen to Churchill’s victory speech, which is at the programme’s heart. Stirring stuff.

Hold A Street Party

Yes, really. Whilst we may not be able to fix trestle tables down the street this year, we can still have a little picnic on the doorstep or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, in your front garden. The landing page of the official VE Day website may be about VE Day’s cancellation, but Pageant Master Bruno Peek still suggests that we needn’t be defeated. As well as encouraging solo bugle or trumpet players to play the Last Post on their door steps at 2.55pm, he hopes that we will all stand together at 3pm and undertake the ‘Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of WW2’, with the words ‘To those who gave so much, we thank you.’ Dame Joan Collins, who lost her childhood home in an air raid while she slept in a tube station, will lead the toast.

Follow The Official VE Day Account On Insta

Want more from the people behind what would have been the official celebrations (and the lockdown alternatives)? Do follow @VEday75official. We love the pictures from the period, including portraits of ordinary people who did extraordinary things and scenes from daily life, such as the empty bottle holders in the pub due to shortages. At a time when our pubs are closed, it is a reminder: we have been here, in some form, before.

Have A Sing-Along With Katherine Jenkins, 6 p.m.

Visit the Royal Albert Hall’s website to watch mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins give a half hour concert in an empty Albert Hall, in which she’ll sing wartime classics, such as The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again, the latter of which she’ll perform as a virtual duet with Dame Vera Lynn. The words ‘I know we’ll meet again some sunny day’ will surely resonate with all of us today.

Make Some Bunting

You can hardly have a proper VE Day celebration without bunting. If you have some stashed away in the attic, it’s time to dust it off. If not, it’s quick and easy to knock up. Got kids? This is an excellent activity to do with them while discussing what WWII was all about. We love the BBC’s video instructions, which show how to make it using just paper or old cardboard, string and some colouring pens.

Inspired? Buy A Forties Style Dress

Despite the horrors of the first half of the 1940s, it was nonetheless a pretty stylish time. From the boiler suits to the tea dresses, the fashions remain as easy-on-the-eye now as then. We love The Seamstress of Bloomsbury. Whilst it’s harder and harder to come by vintage examples (and especially ones for anything over a size 8-10), she makes convincing recreations in an 8 to a 16. We are especially taken with the Peggy Wrap Dress.

Mix Up a Pimm’s

Pimm’s is the quintessential British summer drink. We like ours with mint and cucumber, but any which way, it’s the only way to mark the occasion. Check out the Pimm’s website for recipe suggestions.

Tune In As The Queen Addresses The Nation, 9 p.m.

The Queen will address the nation for the second time in less than two months, this time at 9pm – the exact same time her father addressed the nation on VE Day. Then Princess Elizabeth, she will remember the scenes she witnessed when she and her sister were allowed out into the crowd to celebrate. The programme will culminate with Vera Lynn’s wartime classic We’ll Meet Again, with everyone encouraged to come out on to the doorsteps for a rousing national rendition.

By Nancy Alsop
May 2020


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Nancy Alsop


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