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Queen leads nation in mourning war dead

Published 08/11/2015

The Duke of Edinburgh and Queen during the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London
The Duke of Edinburgh and Queen during the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London

The Queen led the nation in honouring members of the armed forces killed in conflict as Remembrance Sunday services took place around the country.

She was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, other senior royals and members of the leading political parties at the Cenotaph in central London.

Also present was King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands who laid a wreath following an invitation from the Queen to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands after the end of the Second World War.

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and the Duke of York also laid wreaths, as the Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the Countess of Wessex, and the Princess Royal's husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, looked on from the Foreign Office balcony.

Prime Minister David Cameron was the first politician to lay a wreath, followed by Jeremy Corbyn who was wearing a poppy, and participated in the singing of the national anthem.

Mr Corbyn had previously attracted wide criticism for not singing the anthem at the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary commemorations.

Other members of the royal family, politicians, and high commissioners also laid their tributes as crowds lined Whitehall for the service, at the heart which was a two-minute silence marked at the beginning and end by the firing of an artillery gun.

Although cool and cloudy, the rain held off for the duration of the service and as thousands of veterans marched past the Cenotaph, before William took the salute at Horse Guards Parade.

Millions of people across the country fell silent in tribute to those lost in war, joining the crowds gathered in central London who stood in a moment of quiet contemplation as Big Ben struck 11am.

Later today giant falling poppies will be projected onto Parliament's Elizabeth Tower.

Thousands joined the Queen, a host of senior royals and Prime Minister David Cameron at London's Royal Albert Hall yesterday to honour the war dead and pay tribute to veterans from all conflicts in the annual event.

The service concluded with traditional prayers, hymns and blessings before an enthusiastic rendition of God Save The Queen.

The Netherlands had the highest per capita death rate of all Nazi-occupied countries in Western Europe during the Second World War.

More than half of them - 107,000 - were Holocaust victims, deported and murdered Jews.

Major Albert Klompmaker of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps is serving as a liaison officer with the staff of the Commander UK Amphibious Forces, based in Portsmouth.

He said: "I was born in the City of Arnhem where almost 1,800 Brits lost their lives during Operation Market Garden.

"So at the very heart is the memory of those that did not return. Not only those who lost their lives in the battle of giving the Dutch their country back but also all who lost their lives wherever in the world to defend our countries' freedom and peace".

The parade was attended by many servicemen and women paying tribute to fallen comrades.

Speaking after placing crosses at the Remembrance garden outside Westminster Abbey, Lance Corporal Ray Uzzel, 67, of the Gloucestershire Regiment, said it was important to pay tribute to those who had given their lives.

He said: "This is the eighth year we have come here. It is important for us to remember the ones who aren't here. We have got mates who were lost in Northern Ireland.

"It is very encouraging to see that all of the dignitaries still come out year after year and the younger generation of the royals do too - eventually William will be King.

"The younger generation should carry it on. One day there will not be any more Second World War veterans left, but they will still be remembered, and Afghanistan veterans will still be around. It is important for us to remember not only those who gave their lives, but those who fought for their country."

The massed bands of the Household Division included the Band of the Grenadier Guards, Band of the Coldstream Guards, Band of the Scots Guards and the Band of the Irish Guards.

They performed a sombre programme of music, directed by the Senior Director of Music Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Roberts.

This year has seen many anniversaries of war. It marks one year since the last combat troops returned form Afghanistan.

April marked centenary of the Gallipolli Campaign, and in May the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day was commemorated.

One month later the Gurkhas marked the regiment's 200 years of service to Britain, and the wider Army commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

August saw the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan, and last month a service was held at St Paul's Cathedral to mark 75 years since the formation of the Army's Royal Engineer bomb disposal unit but which honoured all those who served and continue to serve in bomb disposal roles around the world.

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