World War II veterans and hundreds of members of the public watched on yesterday as the Prince of Wales placed a wreath at the Cenotaph to mark the 60th anniversary of VE Day.
The service, held in Whitehall, was the first event of a series of commemorations to Victory in Europe, which was proclaimed on May 8, 1945.
With dozens of former servicemen in attendance, all wearing regimental caps and proudly displaying their medals, the Right Reverend David Conner, Bishop to the Armed Forces, led the ceremony at the National war memorial.
Looking on from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was the Duchess of Cornwall, taking part in her first major state occasion since her marriage to Prince Charles.
New Secretary of State for Defence, Dr John Reid also placed a wreath at the Cenotaph, followed by Chief of the Defence staff, General Sir Michael Walker, the chief of each of the armed forces, representatives of veterans organisations and personnel from the emergency services.
The crowd clustered along both sides of Whitehall fell still as the Last Post was sounded, followed by a two minute silence in tribute to those who died in service.
The Royal Artillery band, their brass instruments gleaming in bright sunshine, struck up the Reveille, shortly before dignitaries advanced towards the Cenotaph to lay their wreaths.
Dozens of former servicemen, who had travelled from across the country to attend, admitted they were disappointed that the memorial was a low-key affair.
Veterans said they were saddened by the fact that the Queen and the Prime Minister were not among dignitaries paying their respects in Whitehall this morning.
The Queen will lead national commemorations on Sunday, July 10, which has been designated as the principal day of remembrance, chosen as a date between both VE Day and VJ Day.
Dressed in formal Naval uniform, the Prince of Wales was the representative of the Royal family, with the Duchess of Cornwall, dressed in a black jacket and white hat, watching solemnly from above.
Former RAF Corporal Leonard Hamer, aged 83, of Stoke on Trent, who served in Germany, said his colleagues felt snubbed.
"We are all disappointed that the Queen and the Prime Minister are not here, when we arrived we looked around and thought that this was a nonentity," said Mr Hamer.
"The veterans should have had a proper role, marching behind the band. It is a real shame, we are getting few and far between now and we are here just for this sort of event.
"It is a very low key memorial and some of the lads have taken that as an insult to those who died."
A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said it was satisfied with the memorial plans and stressed that the Queen is due to lead further celebrations later in the year.
"Even as late as the end of last year there weren't going to be events today, simply on July 10," he said.
"Veterans said that wasn't acceptable and that they wanted the day to be marked.
"The government has done that and we welcome the fact the day has been officially commemorated."
As he watched celebrations Mr Hamer said despite the passing of six decades, events of 1945 remained clear in his mind.
" When the news came through I was in Germany on a run with supplies from Ostend," he said.
"I parked up on a roadside and was getting a brew on and settling down when I heard some noises from a wood and went to investigate.
"There was a group of young Germans celebrating and playing a piano-accordion. They invited me to join them and started passing round the schnapps."
Meanwhile, hundreds of flying enthusiasts had their first glimpse of a £24 million museum being created in tribute to the greatest names in British aviation history.
AirSpace is being built at the Imperial War Museum's aviation base at Duxford near Cambridge, where an air show celebrating the 60th Anniversary of VE Day took place on Saturday and Sunday.