Remembrance Sunday: Queen leads the nation in commemoration of war dead | UK | News (Reports)

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The Queen remembers the war dead

The Queen remembers the war dead (Image: Chris Jackson/PA)

The few servicemen and women allowed in Whitehall stood six feet apart. Only 25 veterans marched past the Cenotaph but all got to chat with Boris Johnson at the Foreign Office afterwards. The Queen watched from a Foreign Office balcony, while on balconies either side stood other royals, including the Duchess of Cornwall with the Duchess of Cambridge. Eighty years after the Battle of Britain, Prince Charles, 71, wore the uniform of Marshal of the Royal Air Force as he placed a wreath for the Queen. Behind Charles stood senior royals including the Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal. Mr Johnson was nearby with all of his surviving predecessors except Gordon Brown and opposition leaders, all six feet apart.

The Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London (Image: Arthur Edwards//PA )

As Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer laid a wreath, a young Guardsman collapsed and was stretchered away.

Veterans rejected suggestions that more people should have been allowed to take part.

eterans during the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph

eterans during the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph (Image: Chris Jackson/PA)

Chris Warren, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, said: “I think because there were fewer people there was more of a focus on individuals. It was a bonus for the Prime Minister to speak to the 25.”

Seymour “Bill” Taylor, 95, is usually at the Cenotaph for Remembrance but paid his respects with neighbours in Colchester yesterday.

The wartime Able Seaman in the Royal Navy said: “We had our ceremony here and everything. It was most, most welcome.”

Wreaths laid at the Cenotaph following the Remembrance Sunday service

Wreaths laid at the Cenotaph following the Remembrance Sunday service (Image: Aaron Chown/PA)

Chelsea Pensioners

Boris Johnson with fiancée Carrie Symonds, speak with Chelsea Pensioners (Image: Chris Jackson/PA)

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon laid a wreath at Edinburgh Castle, while at Enniskillen, where an IRA Poppy Day bomb 33 years ago killed 11, Ireland’s premier Micheal Martin joined Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster to lay a wreath.

COMMENT by Leo McKinstry

Never before has Remembrance Sunday taken place under such extraordinary circumstances.

Boris

Boris Johnson with fiancée Carrie Symonds, speak with retired bus driver and army veteran Ian Aitchison, 96 (Image: Chris Jackson/PA)

As Covid-19 maintains its grip, ceremonies had to be limited or abandoned.

But these unprecedented restrictions did not diminish the resolve of the nation to pay its usual solemn tributes.

As the Prince of Wales put it during the Festival of Remembrance on Saturday night: “No virus can stop us honouring the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom.”

A soldier is taken ill

A soldier is taken ill during the National Service of Remembrance (Image: Chris Jackson/PA)

Indeed the commemorations were given an added poignancy and significance.

Not only did the socially distanced emptiness make the silences more resonant and the Last Post more powerful but the rising death toll provided an insight into what previous wartime generations had experienced on a far greater scale.

Moreover, the deserved plaudits for today’s medical, emergency and military personnel, coping so selflessly, brought a new meaning to the praise we annually give to past heroes.

Football remembers the war dead

Football remembers the war dead (Image: Shaun Botterill/PA)

As always, the magnificent Cenotaph was the focus but glaringly absent were the veterans.

In place of 10,000, there were only 25.

Even so, the event was still unbearably moving.

Dignitaries lay wreaths at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire

Dignitaries lay wreaths at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire (Image: Christopher Furlong/PA)

A virtual Act of Remembrance was held at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, while in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, First Minister Arlene Foster joined the Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin.

With acts of worship banned, some gathered at home.

Malcolm Clerc, 94, Atlantic convoys veteran, saluted at his gate in Cheshire.

Commando Memorial

A veteran lays a wreath at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, near Fort William (Image: Andrew Milligan/PA)

David Cole, Royal British Legion Director of Music, said of the Festival of Remembrance poppy drop: “There was no public and no large body of troops but it was the same feeling? very emotional and painful, as it always is.”

That sentiment was shared across the land yesterday.

Our physical presence counted less than what was in our hearts.

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