Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Queen leads poignant tribute in the sunshine at Whitehall Cenotaph

The Queen at the Cenotaph in Whitehall for the annual Remembrance Day Service
The Queen at the Cenotaph in Whitehall for the annual Remembrance Day Service

The UK fell silent yesterday to remember its war dead at services across the nation as the Queen led the nation in honouring the Fallen.

At Whitehall's Cenotaph memorial the Queen laid the first wreath to commemorate members of the Armed Forces who died fighting in all conflicts since the First World War.

In brilliant autumn sunshine senior members of the monarchy, Prime Minister David Cameron, military chiefs and thousands of watching spectators gathered to pay their respects.

When the first stroke of 11 sounded from nearby Big Ben, Whitehall observed a two-minute silence only punctuated by the hum of distant London traffic.

The Duchess of Cambridge, dressed in a black double-breasted coat that sported two scarlet poppies, and a bowler-style hat, watched the sombre events from a balcony at the Foreign and Commonwealth building.

It was the first Remembrance Sunday service she has attended as a member of the Royal family.

Her thoughts may have turned to her grandfather Peter Middleton who trained Canadian pilots during the Second World War in Calgary and died last year aged 90.

The deafening sound of gunfire from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery stationed in Horse Guards Parade signalled the start of the two-minute silence as Big Ben chimed.

In the shadow of the Cenotaph the Queen stood motionless with her head bowed in front of her family who stood in a line behind her.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent were all dressed in military uniform.

Crowds, who numbered in their thousands and contained many veterans, also watched in silence.

Another booming artillery fire echoed around Whitehall as the silence came to an end.

As the artillery blast faded, buglers of the Royal Marines sounded the haunting melody of The Last Post.

The Queen led the laying of the wreaths and was followed in seniority by the other royals.

Prince Harry was missing as he is in America on the final stage of his Apache helicopter training. He instead attended his Army Air Corps squadron's remembrance service parade in Arizona.

Troops in Afghanistan paused to remember their fallen comrades and those who died in previous conflicts.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who had been visiting servicemen and women in the country, paid tribute to the Armed Services.

He said: “The public hugely respects and admires what our service people do and the professionalism with which they do it, and we're here today to remember those who sadly have paid the ultimate price.”

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond led tributes north of the border.

He laid a wreath during a service at the Stone of Remembrance on Edinburgh's Royal Mile and attended a Service of Remembrance at the city's St Giles Cathedral.

In Newtownards, veterans of the Armed Forces (left) joined members of Ards Borough Council to pay their respects to those killed in wars at the Cenotaph in the town.

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