The "We'll Meet Again" singer died Thursday morning at her home in East Sussex, England, surrounded by close relatives

By Phil Boucher
June 18, 2020 08:16 AM
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Dame Vera Lynn, whose iconic songs provided the soundtrack to British life during World War II, has died. She was 103.

In a family statement released Thursday morning, the singer's relatives paid tribute to Lynn — who became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1975 — as "one of Britain's best-loved entertainers."

"The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103," the statement said. "Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18 June 2020, surrounded by her close family."

A memorial service for Lynn will be announced at a later date.

Dubbed "The Forces’ Sweetheart" because of her popularity among allied troops during World War II, Lynn's recordings of "We’ll Meet Again" and "White Cliffs of Dover" remain iconic to the British people.

Such is her cultural impact, Queen Elizabeth even referenced one of Lynn's songs in a deeply poignant moment during her rare April 5 television address amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dame Vera Lynn
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Queen Elizabeth
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“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,” said the Queen.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE that a private message from the Queen will be sent to Dame Vera Lynn's family.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall— who returned to royal duties on Wednesday— led the tributes with a post on the Clarence House Twitter page.

"Remembering Dame Vera Lynn," they simply captioned a series of photos of the royal pair with the entertainer.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also honored Lynn's ability to lift the UK's morale in the nation's "darkest hours."

"Dame Vera Lynn’s charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours," Johnson wrote on Twitter. "Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come."

Charity fundraiser Captain Tom Moore — who will soon be knighted for raising nearly $40 million for the U.K.’s National Health Service — showed just how much Lynn's songs meant to allied forces during World War II.

"She had a huge impact on me in Burma and remained important to me throughout my life," Tom wrote on Twitter. "My thoughts are with Dame Vera Lynn's family at this sad time."

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In a moving website statement, the Dame Vera Lynn Charity, which supports under 5s with cerebral palsy and other motor learning impairments, said they were “devastated” to have lost their president.

"We are filled with overwhelming sadness at the passing of Dame Vera Lynn at the age of 103," they added on Facebook. "She was loved the world over and touched the hearts of millions of people, none more so than the families and children at her own charity. We are proud and thankful to have known and worked with such a wonderful and inspirational woman. Her memory will live on in the work she started here at our Charity for children with cerebral palsy."