Prince Charles leads the nation in remembering heroes of WW2 on VE Day

8 May 2020, 11:06 | Updated: 8 May 2020, 15:24

Prince Charles laying a wreath for the two-minute silence as a piper plays in the background
Prince Charles laying a wreath for the two-minute silence as a piper plays in the background. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Prince Charles led the nation in a two-minute silence on VE Day to remember those who fought and died in the Second World War.

At 11am, the nation paused to honour the memories of the British servicemen and women who gave their lives during the bloody, six-year-long, global conflict.

The silence was led by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in a broadcast from a location in Scotland, where they are self-isolating.

The royal pair laid a wreath and a bunch of flowers at a war memorial close to Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire.

Guns were fired on the hour to mark the moment the nation fell silent, and again two minutes later.

It follows a number of other silences held across Europe, including across The Channel with Britain's Second World War Allies France.

However, coronavirus restrictions meant that large-scale commemorations could not take place on the historic day.

The two-minute silence was bookended by bagpipe players across the UK
The two-minute silence was bookended by bagpipe players across the UK. Picture: PA
People stopped by Trafalgar Square in London to observe the two-minute silence
People stopped by Trafalgar Square in London to observe the two-minute silence. Picture: PA

Shortly before the sombre moment, the Red Arrows performed a stunning flypast over London to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Meanwhile, RAF Typhoons appeared above Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast as the air force paid its respects to those who fought in the Second World War.

In a message posted on social media, the Red Arrows said they wanted to "pay tribute to those who valiantly defended our nation, our lives and our freedom. Thank you."

Why do we have a two-minute silence?

The first two-minute silence was observed on Armistice Day on 11 November 1919 to remember soldiers who had died in the First World War.

They now take place every Remembrance Day to commemorate soldiers who have lost their lives in conflicts across the world.

The Royal British Legion said: “At 11am, we're encouraging people across all generations and communities to take part in a national moment of Remembrance and pause for a Two Minute Silence to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation and reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world.

“There is no right or wrong way to take part in the Silence, some may wish to stand at their windows, step outside their homes while remaining distanced from others, watch the broadcast on television, or simply sit in a quiet moment of reflection.”

What else is happening on VE Day?

- 11.15am: The nation is invited to join in with the Royal British Legion's (RBL) VE Day 75 Livestream.

Grab a cup of tea and tune in as the generations of the Second World War and today are brought together to chat about their shared experiences.

Hosted by TV presenter Sonali Shah, the 45-minute programme will feature stories from those who served and sacrificed, as well as recognising the difficulties people are experiencing today.

- 3pm: The Nation's Toast to the Heroes of World War Two. Take part by raising a glass, cheering and clapping on your doorsteps and saying: "To those who gave so much, we thank you."

- 9pm: A pre-recorded address by the Queen will be broadcast at the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a radio address on May 8 1945.

- 9pm: Fancy a sing-along? After the Queen's address, the nation is invited to come together in a rendition of Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again on BBC One.

There are also dozens of regional events taking place, which you can find out about here.

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