World War II soldiers, sailors and airmen “would recognize and admire” the spirit shown by the British public during the current coronavirus lockdown, Queen Elizabeth II said on the 75th anniversary of the war ending in Europe.
In her third address to the nation since the outbreak began, the monarch noted that yet again, people are working hard to protect one another, during the subdued Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) celebrations.
“Today may seem hard as we cannot mark this special anniversary,” she acknowledged in a televised speech on Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day).
“When I look at our country today and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation that those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognize and admire,” she said.
Her message was released at 9 p.m. GMT (4 p.m. ET) — the same time at which her father, King George VI, had in 1945 marked the end of World War II with a radio speech.
The commemoration began hours earlier with Royal Air Force jets flying over London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.
Street parties initially planned to mark the day were canceled to maintain social distancing. Instead, people were encouraged to sing the WWII-era song “We’ll Meet Again” from their front doors and windows in a nationwide singalong. The song offered hope to many on the front lines during the war.
The royal family has a tradition of stepping in during times of crisis and keeping spirits up.
The queen delivered her first broadcast as a teenager in 1940 aimed at comforting children who had been evacuated from their homes during the war.
She later enlisted in the war effort, serving as a mechanic for the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, and stood along with her father and other members of the royal family at the balcony of Buckingham Palace when huge crowds gathered to mark the war’s end in Europe.
Fighting with Japan would continue in the Pacific theater until Aug. 14, 1945, when an armistice was declared.
Last month, the queen delivered a rare televised address in response to the pandemic. She told the millions of people on lockdown in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth that “better days will return.”
She had also invoked “We’ll Meet Again” by saying: “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”
It was only the fifth time during her 68-year reign that the queen made a special broadcast, with the last one being in 2012 for her diamond jubilee. She also addressed the nation in 2002 after the death of the queen mother, ahead of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, and during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
Normally she delivers televised messages to the nation only on Christmas Day.
Other royals have also stepped up during the coronavirus lockdown.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William’s wife, has held video calls with health workers and new parents at Kingston Hospital just south of London, who have been impacted by the virus.
The former Kate Middleton also launched a photography project designed to capture “the spirit, the hopes, the fears and the feelings” of the country amid the crisis, while giving some insight on how she and William are managing homeschooling for their children.
Her daughterPrincess Charlotte, 5, has also risen to the challenge, delivering food packages to elderly residents who are isolating at home because of the pandemic.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have also been delivering food parcels.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Michele Neubert and David Rudge contributed.