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Royal Family mark VE Day with service at Westminster Abbey

by Victoria Howard

Today senior members of the Royal Family attended a special service at Westminster Abbey to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended the service, along with The Duke of York, Earl of Wessex and the Duke of Kent, representing the Royal Family. Both Prince Philip and Prince Andrew have seen active service, in WWII and the Falklands respectively.

After entering the abbey, The Queen touched a wreath which was laid at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior before she took her seat for the service. Over 580,000 UK and Commonwealth forces lost their lives, along with 67,073 British civilians during bombing raids on the UK.

1000 veterans and representatives of the Allies and Commonwealth nations that fought in WWII also took their seats in the Abbey. Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Theresa May and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon were in attendance, as well as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said this to the congregation: “We gather again, 70 years on, thankful for victory over the greatest darkness of the 20th century, perhaps of all history.

“Our gratitude is not simply for victory-in-Europe, but also reconciliation-in-Europe that followed, neither obviously or automatically.

“The peace for which we give thanks today – 70 years of the greatest peace in Western Europe since the departure of the Roman legions – remains an ongoing project of reconciliation, not only for us but as a gift to the world, where conflict and extremism destroy hope, devastate prosperity, vanquish aspiration to a better life.”

Following a reading of the VE Day speech by The Queen’s father, George VI, prayers were read by veterans and men and women serving in the armed forces today. Sir Winston Churchill’s great-great-granddaughter, Zoe Churchill, read the act of rededication along with VE Day veteran, John Wilson.

Today there are other events in London to celebrate the anniversary; a reception for veterans will be held in St James’s Park, hosted by the Royal British Legion, and there will also be vehicles from the 1940s.

Members of the public were able to watch the ceremony from Horse Guards Parade, as well as the veterans parade and the changing of The Queen’s Life Guard by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

There will also be a fly-past by the Red Arrows in a Lancaster bomber and Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes.

Feature photo: President Sri Lanka

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