Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Queen leads the nation in sombre tribute to war dead at Cenotaph

The Queen listens to the service of remembrance

Silence fell across the United Kingdom as the nation united to honour its war dead on Remembrance Sunday.

The Queen led the tributes and was joined by senior royals in central London.

She laid the first wreath at the Cenotaph in memory of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, in what was the focal point of the day's commemorative events.

After laying her wreath, the Queen bowed her head, before Second World War veteran the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge stepped forward to lay their wreaths.

Prince Harry laid a wreath on behalf of his father Prince Charles, who marked Remembrance Sunday by attending a service in India, where he is currently on an official tour with the Duchess of Cornwall.

Other royals abroad included the Duke of York. He visited troops in Afghanistan with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, and took part in a service at Camp Bastion.

Millions joined in the two-minute silence that began as Big Ben struck 11am. Whitehall was lined with crowds, yet no sounds were made during the moment of contemplation.

The Duchess of Cambridge, joined by the Countess of Wessex and Vice Admiral Tim Laurence, watched solemnly from the balcony of the Foreign Office, immediately in front of the Cenotaph.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who joined the Royal Navy in 1939, wore the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet for the ceremony.

Prince Harry, who has undertaken two tours of duty in Afghanistan, wore the uniform of Captain, Household Cavalry with the Army Air Corps beret.

His brother Prince William, who left operational service recently after more than seven years in the forces, wore the uniform of Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant.

Prime Minister David Cameron was first after the royals to lay a wreath, followed by Labour leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Former prime ministers Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and London Mayor Boris Johnson also took part in the ceremony.

After the dignitaries had played their part, the band of the Guards Division broke the silence, their music accompanying the march past of veterans and civilians.

More than 10,000 veterans and civilians filed past the Cenotaph to pay their respects to their departed comrades, led this year by members of the War Widows Association, wearing black coats and red scarves.

They were all warmly applauded as they paraded past, some of the veterans participating in wheelchairs or motorised scooters.

For the first time, among their number were members of the British Resistance Movement, also known as Churchill's Secret Army, who had been tasked with fighting back in the event of a German invasion during the Second World War.

There was a large contingent of veterans from the Korean War, the armistice of which was 60 years ago. The 70th anniversaries of the Battle of the Atlantic and the Dambusters' Raid were also marked this year.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Laurence took the salute at Horse Guards Parade for the march-past.

In Scotland more than 30 events were organised by volunteers from the Royal British Legion Scotland to mark Remembrance Sunday.

In the capital, a parade of veterans, serving military detachments and cadets marched from St Giles Street to the City Chambers in the High Street.

In Glasgow the city's Lord Provost Sadie Docherty led a service in George Square during which deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon laid a wreath.

In Aberdeen, members of the armed services, veterans and pipe bands paraded from Belmont Street through the city centre to the war memorial at the Cowdray Hall.

A two-minute silence will be held today at 11am.

Among those marking Armistice Day will be a group of former Far East Prisoners of War who are revisiting their prison camps in Singapore and Thailand.

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