Queen ElizabethII Recalls Secretly Mingling With Crowds On V-E Day With AM-Europe-V-E Day, Bjt
LONDON (AP) _ In a rare broadcast interview Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II described how she slipped out of Buckingham Palace the night World War II ended in Europe and mingled incognito with celebrating Londoners, ″swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.″
On that night, May 8, 1945, the monarch was a 19-year-old princess and a subaltern in the Royal Transport Corps.
More than 100,000 people gathered outside the palace on hearing the news of Nazi Germany’s surrender, and were rewarded when the royal family appeared - King George VI; his wife, Queen Elizabeth; their daughters, Elizabeth, and Margaret, then 14, and the king’s mother, Queen Mary.
″I remember the thrill and relief,″ the queen said in the interview with British Broadcasting Corp. war correspondent Godfrey Talbot.
″My parents went out on the balcony in response to the huge crowds outside. I think we went on the balcony every hour - six times.
″And then, when the excitement of the floodlights being switched on got through to us, my sister and I realized we couldn’t see what the crowds were enjoying ... so we asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves.″
Elizabeth recalled being ″terrified of being recognized″ and pulling her cap over her eyes. But the Grenadier Guards officer with her ″refused to be seen in the company of another officer improperly dressed. So I had to put my cap on normally.″
″We cheered the king and queen on the balcony, then walked miles through the streets. I remember miles of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall (the main street of British government), all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.
″I also remember when someone exchanged hats with a Dutch sailor - and the poor man, coming along with us to get his cap back.″
The princesses then again joined the crowd outside Buckingham Palace in shouting for the king, who obliged with another appearance.
″We ... cheated slightly because we had sent a message into the house to say we were waiting outside,″ Elizabeth said.
″I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.″
The interview was broadcast Wednesday as part of a radio special, ″The Way We Were.″
Interviews with the monarch are extremely rare. Talbot credited luck.
To mark the V-E Day anniversary, London’s city government organized a daylong entertainment featuring 1940s Big Band dance music; the release of 15,000 balloons, and a 20-minute fireworks display over the River Thames.
Radio stations played tapes of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill telling Britain that ″hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight (May 8).″
Having originally balked at sponsoring any V-E Day commemorations for fear of offending West Germany, the British government’s only official celebration was a subdued memorial service at Westminster Abbey.
The queen led a congregation of 2,200 in the hour-long ecumenical service attended by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and leaders of the main opposition political parties, ambassadors and charge d’affaires from 85 countries, including U.S. Ambassador Charles H. Price II, and hundreds of veterans, many wearing war decorations.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip, read one of the biblical lessons and a 24-year-old nurse, Sue Mallet, read another.
Schoolchildren laid a cross of flowers at the altar in a ″Procession of Hope″ down the long aisles of the 1,000-year-old abbey.
Hundreds of Jews gathered around a Holocaust memorial in Hyde Park to pay tribute to the victims of Nazi atrocities and those who fell in battle.
″We weep for our comrades killed in battle and in the Blitz - we mourn the millions of every faith and of every nationality, the millions who died by Nazi hand,″ said Greville Janner, president of the Board of Deputy of British Jews.
″But we laugh through our tears in joyful salute to the 40th anniversary of the death of Hitlerian Nazism, of victory in Europe, of liberation for the sufferers,″ said Janner, a Labor member of Parliament.