kate middleton william ve day

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge revealed Prince George and Princess Charlotte were learning the words to ‘We’ll Meet Again’ as they spoke to war veterans on Friday (Picture: PA)

Prince William and Kate Middleton shared giggles with Second World War veterans today, as the heroes revealed their VE Day memories to mark the 75th anniversary.

The Duke of Cambridge honoured veterans at Mais House, a Royal British Legion care home in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, in a video call, telling them ‘everyone’s still thinking of you all today and they’re very proud’ .

The royal couple also revealed their two eldest children Prince George and Princess Charlotte were honouring the important day by learning the lyrics to Dame Vera Lynn’s famous wartime anthem ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

Kate said it was ‘lovely’ to have the song playing every day after the children’s teachers set them the challenge.

The touching chat came as the nation stepped out in force to celebrate, with pictures from across the country showing people enjoying the sunshine from home.

As champagne was popped, the veterans joked they would eventually hold VC Day – ‘Victory over Coronavirus’ – when the Covid-19 crisis came to an end.

Charles Ward, the oldest resident at Mais House, a Royal British Legion care home in Bexhill-on-Sea, reminisced about how he served tots of rum to fellow servicemen on VE Day.

He said: ‘We were in Greece at the time, and I had to go round early in the morning with rum for all the men.’

William replied: ‘I bet you were the hero of the time there Charles, delivering rum out to everybody.’

The duke told the war heroes everyone was thinking of them (Picture: PA)

Veterans Charles Ward and Jean Hull, alongside Susan Barnes, from Mais House, a Royal British Legion Care Home in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex (Picture: PA)

Mr Ward, 101, had a varied military career, being called up into the London Irish Rifles and later serving in North Africa.

He then joined the Special Operations Executive to encrypt, or cipher, messages from British agents parachuted into France and Italy.

The veteran, from South Kirkby in Yorkshire, told the Cambridges about working on ‘secret’ messages from wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill.

Describing the correspondence he received from the wartime leader after the video call, he said: ‘The message came from Churchill, I had to decipher it, re-encipher it and send it to his son in Yugoslavia to say, “Happy Birthday”.

‘And then there was another one from the son to Churchill himself to say congratulations on your speech in Parliament. When I told William and Kate that story, they giggled.’

Prince William revealed that Valerie Glassborow, Kate’s paternal grandmother, was a civilian member of staff at the wartime code-breaking centre Bletchley Park, where her twin sister Mary was also employed.

The duchess said: ‘It’s so sad that she’s not here today, as I would love to speak to her more about it.’

The residents began VE Day with a religious service performed by a minister on a balcony, to maintain lockdown rules, before they were entertained by a comedian and historian – in character as Churchill – and enjoyed a lunch washed down with more champagne.

Veterans James Pyett, 95, and Thelma Hobden from Mais House (Picture: PA)

EMBARGOED: NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR ONWARD DISTRIBUTION BEFORE 2100 BST Friday May 8, 2020. Buckingham Palace handout image of Queen Elizabeth II during her address to the nation and the Commonwealth on the 75th anniversary of VE Day. PA Photo. Issue date: Friday May 8, 2020. The address was recorded at Windsor Castle. See PA story MEMORIAL VE. Photo credit should read: Buckingham Palace/PA Wire

The Queen reminded Britain to ‘never give up’ in a poignant VE Day message on Friday (Picture: PA)

Mais House went into lockdown before the government issued social distancing rulings, has remained virus free and has been receiving supplies of personal protection equipment for staff, said Sue Barnes, the registered home manager.

Resident James Pyett, 95, also chatted to the royals and they quizzed him about his experiences of the Blitz.

The family of the veteran, who served as a driver with the Royal Corps of Signals during the war, were bombed out of their Limehouse home in the East End of London, but when they sought refuge in Bournemouth they found themselves targeted again by the Luftwaffe.

He said: ‘I was blown up and put in hospital and my father said, “Right, if we’re going to be bombed here, we’re going back to London”.’

Mr Pyett said his family were given a home in Clapham, south London, adding: ‘We moved in on a Saturday afternoon and we were bombed out on the same Saturday night.’

He and his father were left covered in dirt after the roof fell in and they went to find his mother, who had sheltered from the attack in an air raid shelter.

William and Kate laughed when the resident added: ‘My mother took one look at my father all covered in soot and dust and she said – and she was a real Cockney woman – “I knew we bloody well should have stayed in Bournemouth”.’

The 95-year-old was in the Netherlands on VE Day, returning to his unit’s base in Ghent, Belgium, saying ‘when we got back, we had a whale of a time’.

The lively video chat comes after Queen Elizabeth reminded the nation to ‘never give up, never despair’ in a poignant address to mark the 75th anniversary.

The monarch said the brave men who fought in World War II would still ‘recognise and admire’ Britain today, as she paid tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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