Thursday, 8 May 2014

8 May - VE Day 1945 -- The Royal Family and Winston Churchill

The Royal Family and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, VE Day 1945
Today, 8 May, is the anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day).

Last month British Pathe released into the public domain some 80,000 newsreel items from its extensive archives. A remarkable range of subjects are covered. Amongst the items is this footage of Winston Churchill rehearsing his VE Day speech. I believe this is the first time this footage has been seen in public. Well worth watching, particularly for his rousing finish: "Advance Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!:

Additionally, here is some rarely seen colour footage of the Royal Family and Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on VE Day. The Royal Family are extremely relaxed. Note the three different styles of royal waves -- none of which have survived to this day.  Churchill does not wave (it would have been deemed inappropriate). He is one of only two politicians to have been honoured to join the Royal Family on the balcony.

As part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of VE Day in 1995, a flag-waving crowd of hundreds of thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace, similar in size to that which had gathered in 1945. Legendary wartime singer Vera Lynn and other well-known figures were present to entertain the crowd. 

The doors to the Buckingham Palace balcony opened and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother walked out on to the balcony and stood alone for approximately one minute -- cheered by the adoring crowd. The Queen and Princess Margaret then walked out and stood either side of their mother. A moving recreation of the balcony scene from 1945 (only Churchill and George VI missing). 

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