75 Years ago today, the Allied Forces accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. The day became known as VE (Victory in Europe) Day, and marks the end of the Second World War in Europe.
VE Day saw the end of one of the darkest times in contemporary history, so it is no surprise that the joy and relief felt by the country erupted into nationwide celebrations.
On the day, over a million people across the nation took to the streets to celebrate with friends, family and neighbours. In London, vast swathes of people congregated in Trafalgar Square, all the way up Pall Mall to Buckingham Palace - where King George VI and Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared on the balcony.
The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Princess Margaret enjoyed the celebrations up close, as they were given permission to join the jubilant crowds in the street.
As well as celebrating the end of the Second World War, the day is also an opportunity for us to thank all those who fought for the liberation of Europe, and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The current Coronavirus outbreak has meant that the bigger celebrations planned for this momentous milestone have had to be cancelled – however, there are still plenty of opportunities to commemorate the day, and to reflect on its significance.
At 11AM, there will be a two minutes silence, and people are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps and share the moment with their neighbours. The Queen will make an address to the nation just before 9PM, after which there will be a nationwide singalong to Vera Lynn's war-time classic We'll Meet Again.
Households are also being encouraged to have a family picnic in their back gardens or living rooms – and there are plenty of tips online to give your picnic a 1940s feel.
Members of The Royal Family, the Prime Minister and I will also take part in video calls with Second World War veterans and those who served on the Home Front.
I know that it is very tough at the moment, with families and friends unable to be together – but VE Day can inspire us to persevere, to maintain that great British spirit, and to remind us that the bad times do come to an end.
As I mentioned in my column last week, the Government has outlined five specific tests that must be met before we can ease the lockdown. Although we seem to now be past the peak (thankfully), we can’t undo the nation’s hard work and sacrifice by easing these measures too early - potentially overwhelming our NHS with a second peak of the virus.
I appreciate that residents are anxious to know when the lockdown will end and when we can get back to normal life. I want this as much as everyone else. I can assure you that the situation is currently being reviewed. The Prime Minister will make an address on Sunday evening to provide an update on this, so please do tune in.
Until then, please join me in commemorating VE Day this bank holiday weekend. Let’s also remember to continue to follow the Government guidance on social distancing and non-essential travel. Stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.