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Government plans to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II were announced today by prime minister Joh...
Government plans to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II were announced today by prime minister John Major.

More than 50 heads of state and government have been invited to attend the official events in London on 6/7 May, which will mark the end of the war in Europe (VE).

All the VE events will have the themes of 50 years of peace, international reconciliation and the benefits which the wartime generation won for the youth of today.

The events are:

6 May - A reception in The Guildhall for visiting heads of state, where the prime minister will be host, followed by a banquet, hosted by the Corporation of the City of London.

7 May - An ecumenical Service of Thanksgiving, Reconciliation and Hope in St Paul's Cathedral. Visiting heads of state will attend the service, together with a congregation of some 2,500 people.

7 May - Youth and international Reconciliation marked by a ceremony in Hyde Park involving the visiting heads of state.

VE Day itself - 8 May - has been declared a public holiday (in lieu of 1 May in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and is to be a national day of celebration.

The special events planned for that day are:

A VE Night concert in Hyde Park and, earlier, a community entertainment in front of Buckingham Palace.

The centrepiece of the weekend's events, however, is a three day public show in Hyde Park. This show which will feature various forms of entertainment will house a large exhibition area and will be open to the public throughout the Bank Holiday weekend.

In addition Hyde Park will also be host to a special Veterans Centre where World War II veterans can be reunited with their former comrades or just visit and relax in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

The weekend 19-20 August has been selected to mark the ending of the war in the Far East (VJ) and the conclusion of the Second World War.

The plans for that weekend, with the themes of thanksgiving for peace and commemoration of the sacrifice of the wartime generation, are:

19 August - a procession in central London by the Tribute and Promise Group, 104 charitable organisations which have come together to demonstrate how much was owed to the wartime generation and to highlight their continuing needs.

This will be followed by an open-air commemorative service and later a parade of veterans - both military and civilian. The day will conclude with a fireworks display on the River Thames in Central London.

20 August - Church services throughout the land - preceded by a peal of bells - will commence the final day of commemoration.

Official services will be held in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast with, later, parades in those cities. The official commemorations will conclude that evening with Beat Retreat and Sunset Ceremonies in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

The Queen and members of the Royal Family will play a full part in the programme of events. Details will be announced later.

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