Princess Elizabeth celebrated unnoticed among the crowds on VE Day

A teenage Princess Elizabeth danced in jubilation on VE Day after slipping into the crowds unnoticed outside Buckingham Palace.

The future Queen, then just 19, and her sister Princess Margaret, 14, joined thousands of revellers as they gathered in front of the royal residence on May 8 1945.

The princesses did the hokey cokey and the Lambeth Walk, and took part in chants of “We want the King” at the Palace railings.

VE Day
VE Day

They also danced the conga through the Ritz hotel in nearby Piccadilly.

Three-quarters of a century later, Elizabeth, now the Queen and the nation’s longest-reigning monarch, will address the nation to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

As part of the official celebrations in 1945, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth made eight appearances on the Palace balcony in 10 hours – on one occasion accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Elizabeth and Margaret themselves appeared six times with their parents throughout the day and evening.

Here's Winston Churchill & the Royal family greeting the public from Buckingham Palace balcony, #VEDay, 8 May 1945

— Science Museum (@sciencemuseum) May 8, 2015

In an unprecedented and spontaneous breach of royal protocol, they also hurried out of the Palace after dinner to join the crowds, accompanied by a group of Guards officers, who were friends of the princesses.

It was Margaret’s idea and the King and Queen agreed to the excursion, with the monarch writing in his diary that day of his daughters’ lack of social life: “Poor darlings, they have never had any fun yet.”

Under the cover of darkness, the royal teenagers went unnoticed in the throng.

Jean Woodroffe, one of the Queen’s first ladies in waiting, once recalled how Elizabeth delightedly joined in the celebrations.

Celebrations on VE Day
Celebrations on VE Day

“What was amusing is that we went into the Ritz hotel through one door and out of the other door, the other end, doing the conga,” Ms Woodroffe told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme in 2006.

“The extraordinary thing was that nobody seemed to take much notice.

“Then we stood outside Buckingham Palace with the crowd and we all shouted ‘We want the King’ with everybody else until the King and Queen came out onto the balcony.”

Elizabeth, who in February 1945 at the age of 18 had undertaken National Service in the Auxiliary Transport Service, wore her ATS uniform on the day.

She had been registered as No. 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor and took a driving and vehicle maintenance course at Aldershot, qualifying as a driver.

Elizabeth in uniform
Elizabeth in uniform

The Queen, years later, described how she was terrified of being recognised on the streets “so I pulled my uniform cap well down over my eyes”.

She added: “I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, and all of us were swept along by tides of happiness and relief.”

Margaret described the war years as “black and gloomy”, but said VE Day came as a “wonderful sunburst of glory”.

The royal family had led by example and lifted morale during the conflict.

World War Two
World War Two

On the outbreak of hostilities, it had been suggested that Queen Elizabeth and her daughters should be evacuated to the safety of Canada or the United States.

But to this she declared: “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.”

Elizabeth and Margaret moved to Windsor Castle during the war, just as the Queen has done amid the coronavirus pandemic.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, slept at Windsor, but won praise for spending their days at Buckingham Palace during the Blitz.

After German bombs fell at the palace, Queen Elizabeth said: “I’m glad we’ve been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the east end in the face.”

The east end of London was just one of the badly-hit areas the royal couple visited during the war to show support.