Duchess of Cornwall's touching letter to her 'darling father'

Prince Charles leads the salute to fallen heroes: Country falls silent to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day and Camilla leaves touching handwritten to her ‘darling father’ Major Bruce Shand

  • Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall led the country in a solemn two-minute silence to mark VE Day
  • The royal couple laid floral tributes in memory of Second World War heroes at a memorial at Balmoral 
  • Camilla’s note paid tribute to her ‘darling father’ Major Bruce Shand, who served in the 12th Lancers  
  • The Red Arrows carried out a spectacular flypast and the Queen will address the country at 9pm tonight

The Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to her ‘darling father’ Major Bruce Shand in a handwritten note marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day. 

Camilla, 72, joined her husband Prince Charles, 71, to lay flowers at the war memorial at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, before leading the nation in a solemn two-minute silence to remember to fallen and those who fought in the Second World War. 

Tied to the stems of Camilla’s bouquet was a monogrammed note card with a message that read: ‘In memory of my darling father, and all the officers and men of the 12th Lancers, who fought so bravely to give us peace. Camilla.’ 

Camilla joined her husband Prince Charles, 71, to lay flowers at the war memorial at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, before leading the nation in a solemn two-minute silence to remember to fallen and those who fought in the Second World War

Prince Charles looked solemn as he laid a wreath at the memorial and led the nation in a two-minute silence today

 Tied to the stems of Camilla’s bouquet was a monogrammed note card with a message that remembered the service of Major Shand and the 12th Lancers, pictured

The Red Arrows carried out a spectacular flypast over London, and Buckingham Palace, this morning

Today commemorates the official surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces on May 8 1945, following the Second World War.

And while large-scale public events are unable to go ahead, members of the royal family and politicians are leading the way in remembering those who laid down their lives for their country. 

At Balmoral, Charles wore Highland Day Dress – a Hunting Stewart kilt with a Gordon Highlanders tie and lapel badge – as well as wearing medals and neck order.  

Camilla, her 4 Rifles dress, because she is Royal Colonel of the regiment, and her 12th Royal Lancers regimental brooch, looked sombre as she laid the flowers at Balmoral, where she and Prince Charles have been in isolation for several weeks. The bouquet was handpicked by the Duchess from the grounds of Birkhall.  

She took a moment to remember her father, Major Bruce Shand, who joined the army in 1937 as a cavalry officer with the 12th Lancers and went onto become a decorated war hero, as she laid her flowers. She enjoyed a close relationship with her father until his death in 2006 at the age of 89. 

Charles’ handwritten message with his floral tribute read: ‘In everlasting remembrance’. 

The Queen will address the country from Windsor Castle at 9pm this evening and afterwards, Britons will be invited to join in with a singalong to Vera Lynn’s wartime classic, We’ll Meet Again.

Charles and Camilla led the way as the UK fell silent to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day

The poignant moment was led by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who each laid a wreath at a memorial near Balmoral

The Duchess of Cornwall placed spring flowers on the memorial, which were picked personally by Her Royal Highness from the garden at Birkhall

Charles wore Highland Day Dress – a Hunting Stewart kilt with a Gordon Highlanders tie and lapel badge – as well as wearing medals and neck order 

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, this morning urged the public to ‘spare a thought’ for those stuck at home at a time of celebration as he said the scaled-down commemorative events necessitated by strict lockdown measures made it ‘tough’ on veterans.

The Prime Minister has also written to veterans, assuring them their efforts will ‘always be remembered’.

In a heartfelt message to the nation this morning, Boris Johnson said ‘our gratitude will be eternal’ to the ‘soldiers, sailors and airmen fought the Nazis with courage, ingenuity and stubborn endurance.’ 

Force Red Arrows flying past the statue of former prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square

Two RAF Typhoons performed a flypast over The Titanic slipway in Belfast

Royal Air Force Red Arrows flying past the Runnymede Memorial in Egham, Surrey

The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery carry out a socially distanced parade of 20 soldiers

Royal British Legion standard bearer Richard Hignett lowers the standard during the two minutes’ silence outside his home in Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire

92-year-old Lou Myers stood in front of the Cenotaph as members of the public behind followed his lead, bowing their heads in respect

Bunting covers the facade of Downing street to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day today

Camilla’s ‘darling father’: How Major Shand became a war hero

The Duchess’ father, Major Bruce Shand, joined the army in 1937 as a cavalry officer with the 12th Lancers and went onto become a decorated war hero

The Duchess’ father, Major Bruce Shand, joined the army in 1937 as a cavalry officer with the 12th Lancers and went onto become a decorated war hero. 

In 1942, already decorated with the Military Cross and bar from the early campaign in France, but by then serving in North Africa, he was praised by Churchill during a surprise morale-boosting visit by the Prime Minister.

Churchill spotted his medals and remarked: ‘You’re a very young man [to have won two medals]. How splendid. But you look so thin.’

Soon after, he was posted to the Libyan desert to face the might of Rommel’s tanks in the battle of El Alamein. Later, he described an encounter with the Germans in which his sergeant and the driver of their armoured car were both killed. 

Himself already wounded, he managed to jump on to another scout car, but was once again hit. Major Shand spent the rest of the war at Spangenburg PoW camp. 

Soon after the war he married the Honourable Rosalind Cubitt and Camilla was born in 1947. 

Major Shand seated in front of Camilla’s children, Laura and Tom Parker-Bowles, and with Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Philip and the Queen, and the wedding of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in April 2005

Her sister, Sonia Annabel, was born nearly two years later, and two years on a brother, Mark, was born.

Now by virtue of his marriage rather better off than most of his brothers-in-arms, he acquired a country house in Sussex and a town house in Kensington, taking up an easy existence as a foxhunting gentleman.

Soon he followed his father’s interest in wine by joining the Mayfair wine merchants Block, Grey and Block.

When not burnishing his knowledge of fine clarets, he hunted with the South Down Hunt, of which he became joint master. At the age of 80, he underwent a hip replacement to prolong his passion for the sport.

Major Shand was daughter Camilla’s ‘rock’ during turbulent periods in her life. Pictured, father and daughter leaving the Ritz Hotel in London in 1995

Camilla’s love of the horse came directly from him: he encouraged her to join the local pony club when she was five.

His influence upon his daughter went beyond horsey matters, however. A gifted writer himself, a great reader and a man interested in the visual arts, his example led her to a wider appreciation of life.

Devoted to his wife Rosalind, Bruce Shand watched with dismay as her form shrank under the burden of osteoporosis.

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