The end of the Second World War
In May 1945, Winston Churchill announced that the Second World War was over. He made this announcement in a speech on the radio. After he had done so, he went to Buckingham Palace to be with the royal family. The crowds clamoured “we want the king, we want the king” and the royals and the prime minister appeared on the famous balcony to the cheers of thousands of people.
In total, the family made seven appearances on the balcony that day. The crowd kept chanting for them. Princess Elizabeth, now the queen, wore her WATS uniform. She and her younger sister Margaret were allowed to go out to mingle anonymously with the crowds. They bodyguards followed at a discreet distance.
The girls had asked their parents if they could do so and their request was granted.
Churchill encouraged the people to celebrate and oh boy, they did. Flags flew, fireworks soared into the sky,people cheered themselves hoarse. There was dancing in the streets, partying and rejoicing.
The partying continued in the streets throughout the night. For those who stayed at home, they had parties too with their friends and families. The following day, the king and queen went to the East End of London – the area that had probably been the worst hit during the hostilities.
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LISTEN TO REMINISCENCES:
In 2015, the seventieth anniversary of VE Day, the BBC interviewed three people all in their nineties, asking them for their memories of that day in 1945. You can hear them below.
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