Dame Vera Lynn, who has died at the age of 103, met royalty on many occasions. And her links to the Royal Family continued until her death as her songs famously inspired one of the Queen’s most admired speeches.
Just two months ago, the Queen used Dame Vera’s most celebrated words as she addressed the nation as the coronavirus crisis took hold. ”We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again – we will meet again” the Queen said. That one line became emblematic of the whole address.
The bond between Dame Vera and the Royal Family stretched back decades. The East End singer became the Forces’ Sweetheart as World War Two began with her songs, including ”We’ll Meet Again” and ”The White Cliffs of Dover”, boosting morale among troops and civilians. She met the Queen Mother on many occasions and gave what is said to have been her last public performance in front of her when she sang at Buckingham Palace in May 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day. She also took part in events marking the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday in 2000.
When the Queen Mother died, in 2002, Dame Vera gave a fulsome tribute, saying ”She loved being with people and this meant a lot to her and she was such a friendly, warm personality. “She treated everyone as an individual and not as a crowd. She spoke to you and she wasn’t interested in anybody else around, her. This warmth came out.”
Dame Vera regularly attended events commemorating World War Two alongside members of the Royal Family. She worked with Princess Anne on a memorial for the women of that conflict.
Vera Lynch was born on March 20th 1917 in East Ham and began singing at an early age. She borrowed her grandmother’s maiden name for the stage and became known as Vera Lynn. During World War Two she had her own radio programme and travelled overseas to visit troops for morale boosting concerts. Her career continued after the war when she had number ones in both the US and the UK and her own TV show. She was made a Dame in 1975.
Dame Vera Lynn died on June 18th 2020.