Queen Elizabeth II recounts how she and sister Princess Margaret joined the crowds on VE Day in 1945
Queen Elizabeth II recalled “one of the most memorable nights of my life” as she watched revelers “linking arms” and moved among the crowds outside Buckingham Palace celebrating the end of World War II in Europe on May 8, 1945, which has now become known as VE Day.
The queen reflected on the rare event in a BBC recording from 1985, which the palace released online Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
After waving to the crowds gathered in front of the balcony at the palace “every hour,” the queen, now 89, and her sister Princess Margaret went incognito to mix in with the crowds and experience first-hand the joy of the people who were celebrating all over London.
During WWII, the then-princess had served in a reserve unit in the war and was also named Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. She said that she and her sister were “terrified” of being recognized, so she pulled her cap down over her eyes. (The future queen wore a uniform throughout the celebrations.) However, a Grenadier Guards officer that was part of her 16-person party made her wear her push her hat back up as he “refused to be seen in the company of another officer improperly dressed.”
The queen continued, “We cheered the king and queen on the balcony and then walked miles through the street. I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.”
She admits how she and Margaret “cheated slightly” after shouting “We want the King,” as they had sent a message into the house saying they were waiting outside. Following the request, King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth then came out to wave to the crowds.
The release of the recording comes just as the queen takes part in 70th anniversary commemorations for VE Day. Friday also marked one of the queen’s most important duties as she invited David Cameron to form a new government after he led his Conservative Party to victory in the U.K. general election.