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UK plans mass singalong for locked-down VE Day
In this file photo taken on December 13, 2019 Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London. Ben STANSALL / AFP.

LONDON (AFP).- Britons will be urged to join a national singalong from their doorsteps and hold 1940s-style tea parties to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, under a coronavirus-appropriate programme unveiled Wednesday.

Queen Elizabeth II will make a televised address to the nation on May 8 to mark the day the Nazis surrendered, bringing an end to World War II in Europe.

It will be followed by a national rendition of Vera Lynn's wartime classic "We'll Meet Again", in which the government said "the public will be encouraged to open their doors and join in".

The original plans for street parties and veterans parades fell foul of stay-at-home orders imposed across Britain last month to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, senior royals and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will take part in a series of video calls with veterans, and the government has drawn up a programme of events that can be enjoyed from people's homes.

It has produced guidance on how to hold a 1940s tea party, from templates for homemade bunting to authentic recipes for spam hash -- using tinned pork, potatoes and onions -- and egg-less cakes.

"In these difficult times, acts of remembrance are even more poignant," Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said.

"I am sure that millions will want to join me to remember and give thanks to those who gave so much to secure peace, freedom and prosperity in Europe."

The queen's message will be delivered at 9:00 pm (2000 GMT), the same time that her father, king George VI, gave a radio address marking VE day in 1945.

Her son and heir, Prince Charles, will also read an extract from the king's diary from the day, which covers the royal family's appearances at the balcony of Buckingham Palace as crowds celebrated on the streets below.

That evening, the young queen -- then known as Princess Elizabeth -- and her sister Margaret were given permission to leave the palace and join the festivities.

© Agence France-Presse

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