Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall remember VJ Day 75 years on

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall today attended a national service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, marking the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.

Victory over Japan Day – or VJ Day – marks the date Imperial Japan surrendered during World War II, finally bringing the war to an end.

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Prince Charles and Camilla arrived at the National Memorial Arboretum to lead the nation’s commemorations just after a letter from The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh was released by Buckingham Palace. The couple, who are on their annual summer holiday in Balmoral, thanked all of those around the Commonwealth and the world who “fought so valiantly” for the freedoms many enjoy today.

VJ Day is actually celebrated on 14th and 15th August and 2nd of September. The August dates are due to timezone differences, while America commemorates the 2nd September, when the surrender document was signed. The UK marks the occasion on the 15th August.

VJ Day has military connections to the Royal Family: a young naval officer called Philip Mountbatten was aboard HMS Whelp in Tokyo Bay 75 years ago today, when Japan Surrendered. He was then present at the signing of the surrender. The Duke of Edinburgh will feature in a montage of veterans created to mark the anniversary.

VJ Day came three months after VE Day, which marked the end of war in Europe in 1945. In those three months many thousands of Armed Forces personnel from all over the Commonwealth, and the world, still involved in bitter fighting in the Asia-Pacific region. The fighting took place from Hawaii to North East India.

This year’s commemorations remember the contribution of all Commonwealth and Allied Forces without whom victory, the freedoms and way of life enjoyed by many countries and people today, would not have been possible.

Today’s event was adapted to ensure attendees can observe social distancing rules, and was broadcast live on BBC One.

In a nod to their own situation at the time, with Philip a naval officer and Princess Elizabeth waiting at home in Windsor for news, the couple said: “Those of us who remember the conclusion of the Far East campaign, whether on active service overseas, or waiting for news at home, will never forget the jubilant scenes and overwhelming sense of relief.”

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Back at the Arboretum, Charles and Camilla were joined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and around 40 veterans for a ceremony marking 75 years since the conclusion of the Second World War.

During the ceremony, the Prime Minister read the Exhortation before a moment of silence, which was broken by a flypast over the arboretum. The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over the event.

The Prince laid a wreath while the Duchess laid a bouquet of flowers in remembrance of Commonwealth and Allied Forces, who fought and died in the Far East during World War II.

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After he had laid his wreath, a veteran also placed one at the Burma Railway Memorial; the veteran lost his footing, and Prince Charles helped steady him.

The Prince of Wales also gave a speech, where he affirmed that “the surviving veterans are not forgotten. Rather, you are respected, thanked and cherished with all our hearts, and for all time.”

He also said that without the courage of “of troops from India, Burma, China and across Asia” joined by hundreds of thousands more troops from “Europe, Africa, Australasia and North America […] the war could not have been won”.

Charles also spoke about his family connection to VJ Day: “It was their extraordinary endurance and fortitude which secured the end of the War, and which was later confirmed by the ratification of the Japanese surrender on 2nd September 1945, in Tokyo Bay, on board the U.S.S. Missouri, an event my father witnessed whilst serving with the British Pacific Fleet.”

“Lord Mountbatten helped me begin to understand the quite atrocious conditions experienced by our forces throughout South East Asia”. He continued: “Lord Mountbatten told me about his experiences of that gruelling campaign in which our troops not only faced a determined opponent, but at the same time had to contend with an incredibly hostile jungle environment and the ever-present scourge of disease which claimed nearly a quarter of a million Allied casualties.”

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He spoke also of being asked to take on the Patronage of the Burma Star Memorial Fund last year, which has since become an Association. The Duke of Edinburgh had been Patron for 40 years before it was handed over to his son.

The Royal said the aim of the Association was to “keep alive the indefatigable spirit of those who took part in the Burma Campaign and, through education, share the most precious dividends of peace and freedom.”

He ended his speech by saying: “We salute all those who remain among us, and offer our most heartfelt and undying gratitude for those who are gone before. Your service and your sacrifice will echo through the ages.”

The Prince of Wales gives a reading at the VJ Day 75 Commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire today (MoD)

Following the ceremony, Charles and Camilla attended a small reception. Here, they had the chance to speak to some of the veterans who had attended the ceremony with their families.

The couple also signed the visitors’ book to mark their visit.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall meet Darbara Singh Bhullar, a Sikh veteran with a namaste greeting, at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire today, to mark VJ Day. (MoD)

Following the event, a video of Charles reading an extract from the diary of his grandfather, King George VI, from this day 75 years ago was posted online. It details his memories of driving down the Mall in a carriage with his wife, Queen Elizabeth, as thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the King and Queen.

Other members of the Royal Family will also be marking today’s anniversary. On BBC One, a pre-recorded message from The Duke of Cambridge featured on ‘VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute’, giving a special address thanking veterans and the wartime generation.

The Duke of Gloucester, in another pre-recorded video, has read an extract from the speech delivered by King George VI on VJ Day, which forms part of an online service of commemoration from Leicester Cathedral.

As we look back at the events of 75 years ago today and remember those who fought and gave their lives for the freedom of so many, I will end on the words of The Queen: “May the memory of their sacrifice and bravery remain with us always.”

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