Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Queen at Festival of Remembrance

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are due to attend the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are due to attend the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance tonight as the nation begins three days of honouring those who have lost their lives in conflicts past and present.

Other members of the Royal Family will also be present for the event at the Royal Albert Hall, which will feature performances from pop stars James Blunt - a former army officer - and Katie Melua, plus the tenor Alfie Boe and new group the Poppy Girls.

The audience of 4,000, including Legion supporters and military families, will be joined by an estimated 5.2 million viewers on television.

The event honours the service and sacrifices of British armed forces from all conflicts, in particular those lost in the past year on active duty.

It will be followed by remembrance services on Sunday at the Cenotaph, while the nation will pause to reflect during the two-minute silence at 11am on Monday, Armistice Day.

This year's festival also commemorates the 70th anniversaries of the Battle of the Atlantic and the Dambuster raids.

The tributes from leading performers will be interspersed with real-life stories from some of the hundreds of thousands of former and serving forces personnel the Legion helps every year.

The Poppy Girls, an all-girl group picked from an exhaustive nationwide search for talent among forces families, will be performing their new single The Call (no need to say goodbye) which is raising money for the Poppy Appeal.

The festival is a landmark event in the appeal, which raises funds for the £1.6 million spent each week to continue the Legion's work supporting the British armed forces past and present, and their families.

Chris Simpkins, director general, The Royal British Legion, said: "The festival will provide a moving and engaging show here in London and for viewers across the country, but more importantly it helps us to reach out to wider audiences and offer the public an opportunity to pay their respects, and remember those who, in past and present conflicts, have made sacrifices in the course of duty."

Before the festival, there will be a short ceremony to mark the renaming of the South Steps at the venue to the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Steps.

The Queen and Philip will view the steps and see the inlaid stonework which commemorates the renaming, the plaque having been hand carved by craftsman Fergus Wessel, a stone cutter who trained in Cambridge.

The steps were renamed last year in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee.

Members of the royal family expected to attend the event include the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Alexandra.

The festival will be shown on BBC 1 at 9.15pm and broadcast on Radio 2 at 8pm.

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