The monarch and other members of the royal family commemorated the event at a church service at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, joined by veterans of the conflict and former prisoners of war.
Some in the crowd dabbed their eyes during the solemn ceremony that recalled the pain and the memory of those who had perished.
"(We) remember, with gratitude, those who gave their lives for the cause which we have believed to be right, and especially to remember our comrades who, in prison camps, or in the seas of the Far East, made the supreme sacrifice, and also to remember those who have died, since their return, as a result of their suffering," said Sam Wells, the vicar of St. Martin.
Yet the day — so joyous 70 years ago — also promises to be one in which the triumph of the victors will be celebrated.
Veterans and internees — many of them now infirm — will join serving members of the British military for a parade through central London toward Westminster Abbey on Saturday. Hundreds of spectators are expected to cheer them on.
London's police force has reassured participants after media reports that extremists intend to target the ceremonies. Scotland Yard Commander Dave Musker says police have worked closely with the Ministry of Defense and the Royal British Legion to make sure the ceremonies pass peacefully.