The Remembrance Day: The Queen Leads Tributes to War Dead
On November 11, Britain fell to remember its war dead at services across the country as the Queen led the nation in honouring the fallen. As the first stroke of 11am sounded, the country observed a traditional two-minute silence in honour of all those who had given their lives for their country and the Queen in all conflicts since World War One.
The Queen laid the first wreath at the Cenotaph, followed by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal, and Prince Michael of Kent. The Duchess of Cambridge, alongside the Countess of Wessex, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence and Lady Susan Hussey (one of Prince William’s godmothers and Woman of the Bedchamber of the Queen) watched the dignified ceremony from a balcony at the Foreign Office.
Wreaths were also laid by Prime Minister Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Miliband, as well as other officials from the UK and Commonwealth countries. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who are currently overseas on their Diamond Jubilee Tour of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, attended a Remembrance Day ceremony in Auckland. Prince Harry was of course absent from any ceremonies in Britain as he is currently on tour of duty in Afghanistan; undoubtedly though he joined other British who held a memorial service at the military base at Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province.
The Duke of Kent, who is also overseas, represented the Queen at a service in the Falklands. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester represented the Queen at The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, which was attended by over 3,000 people. The Arboretum focal point, the National Armed Forces Memorial, is appropriately designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight dissects its inner and outer walls, falling on a bronze wreath sculpture.
Veterans’ representatives laid wreaths at the Cenotaph before almost 10,000 former servicemen marched past to commemorate their fallen comrades. As the parade marched past the giant war memorial, inscribed to The Glorious Dead, the crowds broke into applause to show their appreciation of the servicemen, past and present. According to the Royal British Legion, this year’s Remembrance Service was the first one to take place since the death of the last veteran to serve during the First World War on either side.
On a personal note, as someone whose ancestors in every generation have served in the Armed Forces (including both World Wars), witnessing such genuine outpourings of respect is always heart-warming: our heroes of the past, no matter the country they fought for, should always be remembered and appreciated. And so I think it is only appropriate to end this blog post with words which symbolises the sacrifices of our Armed Forces, regardless of what country they represent or on which day the Remembrance Days fall – Ode of Remembrance from Binyon’s “For the Fallen”.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Tagged Armistice Day, Elizabeth II, Remembrance Day, World War I.