The Queen at War chronicles the royals' experience during WWII.

By Christopher Luu
May 04, 2020 @ 5:45 pm
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This year marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, also known as Victory in Europe Day, and PBS is celebrating the occasion with a new documentary, The Queen at War. And though the special outlines the royal family's experiences during World War II, a special segment with Queen Elizabeth II includes her recounting what she calls the "most exciting night" of her life. She recalls being in a huge crowd of people celebrating Germany surrendering — and the experience of being able to make her way through that group is something she'll never forget.

VE Day commemorates Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on May 8, 1945. During the war, members of the royal family were whisked away to the countryside as London was bombarded by the Blitz. After the announcement of Germany's surrender, King George VI's gave a historic speech and people filled the streets of London. Town & Country reports that the queen and her sister, Margaret, convinced King George to let them join the party. 

Samir Hussein/Getty Images

In the documentary, Elizabeth explains that it was the first time she'd ever experienced anything like it.

"I remember we were terrified of being recognized, so I pulled my uniform cap well down over my eyes," she explained in a clip posted to The Royal Family's Instagram Story.

Though the PBS special has tons of archival footage, there's no known video or photo evidence of the queen celebrating with her subjects. The show's producers surmised that it's likely the only time she'd ever been able to just wander through a crowd and not get recognized.

"There is no existing footage of the Queen in the crowd that we know of. She was in uniform; she was with a small group, but we certainly didn't find any. It was an unprecedented thing," Chris Granlund, the executive producer of the film, told T&C. "It was probably the first time she'd been in a crowd of people of that size without it being a ceremonial occasion — [It was] probably the first time in her life, and probably the last time that she was, in a sense, free to wander, relatively free to wander and roam among a crowd of people in London. It is quite extraordinary."