Queen to lead VJ Day anniversary commemorations


The Queen and other members of the royal family will lead the nation today in marking the 70th anniversary of VJ Day.

A series of events will commemorate the sacrifices of British Second World War forces who fought and died defeating Japan.

The Metropolitan Police is encouraging people to continue with their plans to attend or take part in events as normal following media reports that extremists aim to explode a bomb in central London during the commemorations.

Buckingham Palace has refused to comment on the reported threat, with a spokeswoman saying they did not comment on security matters.

Proceedings in honour of VJ Day - Victory over Japan - will begin with a service attended by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister David Cameron, veterans, and former prisoners of war at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church.

Later, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be joined by veterans and their families for an event at Horse Guards Parade, featuring a fly-past of historic aircraft and a wreath-laying ceremony.

A highlight of that event will be actor Charles Dance reading the poem The Road To Mandalay by Rudyard Kipling.

The poem was famously set to music and was a favourite marching tune for many in the 14th Army in Burma, commanded by Field Marshal Lord Slim during the campaign.

The event will begin with a fly-past of four historic aircraft, a Spitfire, Dakota and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a Royal Navy Swordfish, together with a current RAF Typhoon fighter jet.

Afterwards, veterans, civilian internees, their descendants and families along with serving members of the Armed Forces, will move down Whitehall and through Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey - passing the statue of Field Marshal Slim - in a special 70th anniversary parade.

Along the route they will be supported by military bands, and the final part will be lined by serving military.

A reception will then take place in the grounds of the Abbey, hosted by the Royal British Legion.

After Victory in Europe (VE) Day on May 8 1945 the Japanese finally surrendered on August 14 following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet declaration of war and invasion of Manchuria.

The next day, Wednesday August 15, was celebrated as VJ Day and the nation formally surrendered on September 2 1945 at a ceremony in Tokyo Bay aboard USS Missouri.

Also in the bay was the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Whelp with Philip, then a First Lieutenant, part of the ship's company.

Following the media reports of terror fears, Scotland Yard issued a statement saying it would like to reassure the public that they "constantly review security plans for public events, taking into account specific intelligence and the wider threat", adding: "Our priority is the safety and security for all those attending or involved, the public are encouraged to continue with their plans to attend or take part in events as normal."

The statement added: "It is always helpful when journalists share with us information, as Sky did in this case, that could indicate terrorist or criminal activity and we will investigate and take action where appropriate."

Sky News said it had created fictional characters online with an undercover journalist and reported a jihadist had told them that the VJ commemorations were a target.

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday claimed it was informed by sources that a specific threat was made against the Queen.

The Yard said yesterday: "The Met has been working closely with the events' organisers, the Ministry of Defence, the Royal British Legion, and other partners to ensure the policing operation is proportionate and appropriate for the commemorations."

Commander Dave Musker, in charge of the policing plans, said: "We have reviewed our security plans for this event and I want to reassure people that we will continue to work hard to ensure that this is a safe and secure event.

"We have been working closely with our partners in the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion, amongst others, to ensure the day's commemorations pass off peacefully.

"I would also like to reiterate our long-standing advice to residents and visitors to remain vigilant and alert. As ever, we would urge the public to get in touch to report anything suspicious by calling the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321, or 999 in an emergency."