Prince Charles paid special tribute to the war generation who fought for freedoms "more precious than we knew" at the Royal British Legion's annual Festival of Remembrance, which airs this evening.
In a moving speech at the start of the taped socially distant event at the Royal Albert Hall, the Prince of Wales said the “best” of Britain was “noticeable” during the pandemic.
The senior king said "Heroes and heroines are all around us and take many forms," adding that the coronavirus crisis "has given us a sharper perspective" on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
In front of an empty Albert Hall and millions of viewers at home, Prince Charles said, “We couldn't get together for VE Day or VJ Day as we had so much hoped, but they were treasured opportunities to reach out to their sacrifices to remember who served in whatever case theater of war.
"In this challenging year, we may have realized that the freedoms they fought for are more precious than we knew and that the debts we owe them are even greater than we imagined."
Typically, the 5,550-person venue for the Royal British Legion's annual event is packed with spectators, veterans, and parades of soldiers and women.
But this year everything has changed because of the pandemic. There couldn't be an audience, the number of attendees had to be reduced, and everything was recorded in sections to ensure social distancing was observed and not too many people were at the venue at the same time.
The broadcaster Huw Edwards presents the recorded socially distant event from the Albert Hall in London from 9.10 p.m. on BBC1 on the 75th anniversary of the World War.
Captain Sir Tom Moore, the centenarian who was knighted this year after raising £ 32 million for the NHS from his Bedfordshire garden at the start of the pandemic, will speak to Edwards about what memory means to him.
Prince Charles paid special tribute to the war generation who fought for freedoms "more precious than we knew" at the Royal British Legion's annual Festival of Remembrance, which airs this evening
The poppy at the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, London
Royal Marines at the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, which will air this evening
State trumpeter from the mounted band of the Household Cavalry at the Festival of Remembrance of the Royal British Legion
Captain Sir Tom Moore backstage at the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall
Prince Charles added: “We have also seen how much the war generation continues to teach us.
& # 39; The actions of veterans, Captain Sir Tom Moore and Private Joseph Hammond, or Margaret Payne and many others like them, are a shining example of selfless engagement and of how even those in their later years achieve so much good through placement can others in front of you.
“Your example still guides our soldiers and women today. During this pandemic, our armed forces have stood side by side with our medics, key workers, and emergency services in the fight against the coronavirus while maintaining our nation's defense at home and abroad. & # 39;
To mark the anniversary, British actors, including Academy Award nominee Samantha Morton, read wartime testimonials detailing the experiences of veterans in Europe and Asia during the World War.
Thousands of poppies will then fall from the roof into an almost empty Royal Albert Hall during the poignant finale of this year's socially distant festival.
The moving first-hand reports will also be read by Eastenders actor Kara-Leah Fernandes and West End star Julian Ovenden for guests in the legendary music hall and for millions of viewers.
Mica Paris, Freya Ridings, Marisha Wallace, Laura Main, Ramin Karimloo and Sophie Ellis-Bextor perform alongside the military musicians of the armed forces.
And music stars Michael Ball and Alfie Boe make a surprise visit to some popular veterans at the Royal Hospital Chelsea before the event culminates in the act of remembrance.
There are usually two live performances – a public matinee and an evening event only open to members of the Legion and their families, attended by senior members of the royal family.
A tribute to the WWII generation at the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall
Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs at the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall
The Legion posted pictures yesterday showing what it will look like. Despite the changes, organizers expect the event to be more moving than ever when it hits TV tonight.
Boris Johnson lays a wreath in deserted London ahead of Remembrance Sunday – when Laurence Fox joins the restrictions, saying war veterans should "be able to do their own risk assessment".
Boris Johnson laid a wreath on a war memorial in West London today as he continued to face violent backlash over a ban on Sunday memorial services in churches.
The government has come under increasing criticism after new Covid-19 rules came out banning mass worship, which would discourage veterans from attending Memorial Sunday services in churches.
Instead, people in England will have to stand outside at events tomorrow – raising fears that older war heroes could be exposed to pneumonia.
The Prime Minister was seen laying a wreath at the Uxbridge War Memorial today as he paid his respects to those who lost their lives fighting for Britain during the two World Wars.
Mr Johnson was accompanied by Ian Ritchie of the Hillingdon and District Royal British Legion for the low-key ceremony in his constituency.
Actor and politician Laurence Fox today criticized the attempt to keep veterans out of the churches as "ridiculous", adding that they "have more than enough nouse to do their own risk assessment and take precautionary measures".
He said, “They are war veterans, for God's sake, I think they have more than enough nouse to do their own risk assessment and take precautionary measures.
"Stop infantilizing them much smarter than you and let them remind you in church if they wish."
It comes as the Legion has warned it will fall a million pounds short of its annual fundraising goal because coronavirus hit its poppy seed appeal after government restrictions prevented poppy seeds from being sold and fundraising on the streets.
The appeal raises about £ 50 million a year, most of it in cash, but the Legion is asking the British to donate electronically. Never in the charity's history were all personal collections canceled, even during World War II.
Last year, the appeal represented more than 30 percent of the charity's income.
Other changes at the Festival of Remembrance are the number of musicians.
David Cole, the Legion's music director since 2006, said the orchestra needed to be reduced from about 80 to 53 in order for them to fit on stage in carefully measured spaces 2 meters apart. But Mr. Cole, who was formerly the musical director of Queen's yacht Britannia, said that this actually resulted in a "cleaner sound".
The choir also had to be reduced – from 112 to 35 members. But the extra space in the venue meant it was visually altered in a way never seen before. The choir members lit up and sang from a box on three levels where the audience was usually located, which according to Cole was.
During parts of the festival – including on the arena floor – there was more room for projection of images as "the entire visual shape of Albert Hall was changed," added Cole.
The poppy falls each year and is followed by a two minute silence to remember and honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our freedoms and our way of life.
It is usually immediately preceded by a parade of soldiers and soldiers, along with representatives of youthful uniformed organizations, down the aisles and onto the floor of the hall.
This year all three armed forces are participating, but the number of members had to be reduced.
Mr. Cole said, “There was no public and no big troop all at once, but it felt the same for us. The poppy is very emotional and very powerful, as always, and the festival is still very uplifting. & # 39;
As always, it will be a combination of performance, spectacle and worship.
In a statement prior to today's event, General Manager Tim Davie said, “I am proud of the role the BBC plays each year in marking Remembrance.
"This year is especially important as we gather from afar to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and paid tribute to their lives."
Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer, said, “Every year the BBC brings the nation together to celebrate Remembrance, to reflect and honor those who have sacrificed their lives.
"This year our role has never been more important as we bring the country together with television and radio programming and the annual Festival of Remembrance, which will pay tribute to all war victims."