Britons stood in silence and Queen Elizabeth was to address the nation on Friday's 75th anniversary of "Victory in Europe" Day, though the coronavirus dampened commemorations for the end of World War Two on the continent.
Prince Charles led a two-minute silence outside his family's Balmoral estate, military jets flew over the United Kingdom's four capitals, and 1940s-style tea parties were planned in homes.
The original plans for extensive events to herald VE Day, when allied forces accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, were scaled back after the government banned social gatherings from March to curb the coronavirus.
A veterans' procession and other events involving crowds were scrapped, but flags and banners fluttered throughout the nation, and people stuck at home due to the lockdown enjoyed a day of special television and radio programmes.
On the white cliffs of Dover, a lone piper played bagpipes as wartime Spitfire planes flew by.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson invoked the "heroism of countless ordinary people" in his tribute to the millions of Britons who fought and lived through the war.
"Today we must celebrate their achievement, and we remember their sacrifice," Johnson said in an address published on his Twitter page. "We are a free people because of everything our veterans did - we offer our gratitude, our heartfelt thanks and our solemn pledge: you will always be remembered."
TEA AND SINGING
There were commemorations too across the water in France, where President Emmanuel Macron held the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Britain's 94-year-old queen's address was to come exactly 75 years after her father George VI gave a victory speech over the radio to the nation.
Elizabeth, a teenager when the war broke out, learned to drive military trucks and be a mechanic while serving in the women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. She was in Buckingham Palace when it was bombed in September 1940.
Since becoming queen 68 years ago, Elizabeth has rarely made broadcasts to the nation except her annual Christmas Day message, but her VE Day speech will be the third such address since the coronavirus outbreak.
Last month, she invoked the spirit of World War Two, calling for the public to show the same resolve and echoing the words of the song "We'll Meet Again" by Vera Lynn which became a symbol of hope for Britons during the conflict.
As part of Friday's celebrations, after the queen's address at 2000 GMT, Britons were being encouraged to open their doors and join in a nationwide singalong of Lynn's song. People were urged to decorate their houses and enjoy afternoon tea.
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins was to give a solo performance at London's Royal Albert Hall, in the first concert behind closed doors in its 150-year history.