The 75th Anniversary of VJ Day
Today is the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, marking both the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War.
Whilst VE Day marked the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, many thousands of armed forces personnel from across the Commonwealth and Allies nations were still involved in bitter fighting in the Far East. The conclusion of the Far East campaign brought a sense of relief that the War was finally over, yet sadness at the terrible devastation that six years of War had brought.
VJ Day coincided with the State Opening of Parliament, and thousands watched King George VI and Queen Elizabeth driven down The Mall in an open carriage as they celebrated Victory over Japan. Later that evening, The King addressed the nation and the Commonwealth in a broadcast from his study at Buckingham Palace. Read it in full here.
Our hearts are full to overflowing, as are your own. Yet there is not one of us who has experienced this terrible war who does not realise that we shall feel its inevitable consequences long after we have all forgotten our rejoicings today
The Royal Family will today remember those who lost their lives and reflect on the events 75 years ago.
A message from The Queen
The Queen has sent a message to mark this significant anniversary. In the message, Her Majesty thanks the men and women from across the Commonwealth and Allied nations for their service to their countries, and recalls the sense of joy, and loss, that swept the nation on VJ Day in 1945. Read Her Majesty's message in full here.
Prince Philip and I join many around the world in sending our grateful thanks to the men and women from across the Commonwealth, and Allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today. May the memory of their sacrifice and bravery remain with us always.
The Queen is Head of the Armed Forces, and has a long and close relationship with the Armed Forces, both in the United Kingdom and in the Commonwealth. Find out more here.
Service of Remembrance
The Prince of Wales, accompanied by The Duchess of Cornwall, attended the national service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where Their Royal Highnesses lead the country in a two minute silence at 11am.
We salute all those who remain among us, and offer our most heartfelt and undying gratitude for those who are gone before.
The Prince of Wales lay a wreath and delivered a speech. Read the speech in full.
Their Royal Highnesses met veterans and descendants of those who served in the Far East campaign.
The Duke of Edinburgh's service in the Pacific
Aged 17 Prince Philip joined the battleship HMS VALIANT, which fought in the Battle of Cape Matapan. The Prince was in charge of the ship's searchlight control, enabling VALIANT to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. For this work, he was mentioned in despatches.
Prince Philip was then appointed First Lieutenant of the W-class destroyer, HMS WHELP, which was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender on 15 August 1945.
Watch The Duke of Edinburgh's reflect on serving with the Royal Navy in Tokyo in 1945:
The Royal Family on VJ Day 1945
On 15 August 1945 King George VI recorded in his diary that “The Prime Minister & some of his colleagues came to congratulate me on the victorious ending of the war”. The King and Queen “went out to the Balcony 6 times during the afternoon & evening”, large crowds having amassed outside Buckingham Palace by 10am.
Here, The King's grandson, The Prince of Wales, reads from The King's diary.
Queen Mary's Diary
The day before V J Day, Queen Mary notes in her diary that: “There was a false alarm about peace for a time, that was declared definitely about midnight, so night was made hideous with noises, fireworks etc. impossible to sleep.”
On 15 August 1945 she writes that during the day “The crowds most disturbing & calling out ‘We want the Queen’ at intervals & I had to go & wave! After dinner I adjoined to the top of Marlborough House to see the flood lighting of Buckingham Palace etc. most lovely”
The King's address
At 9pm on 15 August 1945, King George VI made an Empire Broadcast to his peoples on Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day).
The Duke of Gloucester, as Patron, the National Far East Prisoners of War Fellowship Welfare Remembrance Association, has recorded a reading of an extract from the speech delivered by King George VI on VJ Day in 1945.
The video formed part of an online service of commemoration from Leicester Cathedral, paying tribute to the key role played by the Leicestershire Regiment in the Far East Campaign from 1941 to 1945. Their service was recognised by King George VI after the war, when they were awarded the title of the Royal Leicester Regiment. The Cathedral also has close ties to the Richard III Society, of which The Duke of Gloucester is Patron.
An Address by The Duke of Cambridge
Alongside testimonies from those who served during the Second World War, The Duke of Cambridge featured in ‘VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute,’ a special programme broadcast on BBC One from 8.30pm. In an address which was recorded at Horse Guards Parade earlier this month, His Royal Highness paid tribute to all those who sacrificed so much during the Second World War.
The Princess Royal's calls with veterans
The Princess Royal spoke to two Second World War veterans via video call about their experiences of the conflict in the Far East, as VJ Day approached.
Syd Pigeon, 99, who served with the Royal Army Service Corps, told Her Royal Highness about his duties, loading military aircraft with supplies to be dropped down to troops while stationed in Burma. Syd also recalled seeing The Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who was Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia.
Leslie Cook, an Australian veteran who served alongside British soldiers, spoke to The Princess Royal from the Australian War Memorial. Leslie was stationed in Borneo on VJ Day, and remained in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force until 1947.