The Prince of Wales is to lead the nation’s two-minute silence to mark the 75th anniversary of the ending of the second world war in Europe.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will pay their respects from Scotland at 11am on a day of celebration and commemoration that also includes an address by the Queen and a national singalong of the wartime classic We’ll Meet Again.
Charles will later read extracts from the diary of his grandfather, George VI, written on 8 May 1945, to be broadcast on BBC One during the afternoon. The entries describe events including the royal family’s famous appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
While plans for VE Day 75 were cancelled due to Covid-19, national events have been adapted. A physically distanced wreath-laying will take place at Westminster, while the government is encouraging those in lockdown to join in from gardens, doorsteps and living rooms to celebrate Victory in Europe.
Events include a National Toast and, instead of the planned street parties, 1940s-style tea parties in homes and gardens across the UK.
VE Day timetable of events
10.50am Wreath-laying at Westminster
The House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, will lay a wreath on behalf of the Commons, while Lord West will lay one on behalf of the Lords.
11am Two-minute silence and national moment of remembrance, broadcast on BBC One
The public is encouraged to stand on their doorsteps to pay tribute to heroes of the past and present. It will be a reflection on the service and sacrifice of the wartime generations, and also on the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on so many.
11.15am Royal British Legion’s VE Day Livestream
The nation is invited to join in with the British Legion’s livestream that will feature stories of those who served.
2.45-3.45pm The Announcement of Victory on BBC One
The first of two special BBC programmes is broadcast.
3pm Churchill’s famous victory speech
The programme will show Churchill announcing the end of the war in Europe from 10 Downing Street on 8 May 1945. At the heart of the broadcast will be a specially created film about the historic radio address.
Personal testimonies will be read by public figures and celebrities recalling the VE Day celebrations. Music from military performers will summon wartime spirit. People will be encouraged to raise a glass in a National Toast, saying: “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”
3pm Royal Navy warships and support vessels for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary at home and around the world will blast their sirens for a minute to celebrate victory, marking the moment of Churchill’s address.
8-8.30pm Captain Tom’s War on ITV
ITV will broadcast a documentary about the war veteran Tom Moore, who captured the nation’s heart, raising more than £32m for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden. He will share his memories of his service in Burma, and the brutal campaign in which a million Allied troops attempt to repel the Japanese invading forces.
8pm The People’s Celebration on BBC One
The second of the BBC programmes, presented by Sophie Raworth, in partnership with the Royal British Legion, will feature a unique musical celebration of VE Day 75. Stars include the Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins, the actor Adrian Lester and the singer Beverley Knight performing well-known songs from the 30s and 40s, including favourites such as Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover and When the Lights Go On Again.
Throughout the show, there will be pre-recorded interviews, produced in self-isolation on phones, and FaceTime with those who still remember VE Day, sharing their memories and photographs.
9pm The Queen’s address to the nation
The address, pre-recorded at Windsor Castle, will form the centrepiece of the programme. It will be broadcast on BBC One at the exact moment her father, George VI, gave his radio address from Buckingham Palace 75 years earlier.
9.10pm A national singalong of the Dame Vera Lynn classic We’ll Meet Again
People are encouraged to join in the singing in their streets from their doorsteps and front gardens.
9.30pm Spotlights will illuminate the sky above Portsmouth
The lights will conjure up the blackout experiences during the war, with the local council hoping it will remind people “that lighter times will come again”. Searchlights on naval ships, in the harbour and at sea, will be directed skywards for five minutes.
Other events during the day include members of the royal family, the prime minister and senior politicians hosting video calls with second world war veterans.
The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) will reflect on the Women in Green of the WVS, founded for air-raid precautions, during daylong VE Day celebrations at their Virtual Village Hall. At 3pm it will feature a live singalong of wartime songs, a jive dance class and a 1940s hairstyle tutorial.
A special VE Day episode of the Best Seat in the House – a twice-weekly online variety concert – will be played on the day in military care homes across the UK. Created by The Not Forgotten armed forces charity, it will feature a message from Dame Vera Lynn, and tributes to Churchill, Gracie Fields, Anne Shelton, the Andrews Sisters and many more.