Remembrance Sunday: Nation falls silent as Queen leads commemorations – BBC News

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QueenThe Queen laid a wreath at The Cenotaph in central London

The Queen has led the nation in remembering service personnel who have died during conflicts, as Remembrance Sunday services are held around the UK.

A two-minute silence was observed before the monarch laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in central London.

Events are being held across the UK and abroad, including in Afghanistan.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, 70 years since the D-Day landings and the end of Britain’s conflict in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the anniversaries made the commemorations “particularly poignant”.

Elsewhere, other ceremonies included:

Security is visibly tighter in central London this year.

Mr Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband were among others to lay wreaths in the capital.

There was a spontaneous ripple of applause on Whitehall after the national anthem was played.

LeadersPrime Minster David Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband laid wreaths in London

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex attend the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph

Band plays in central London

‘Intensity and poignancy’

Gen Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff, said celebrations would have a “different feel this year”.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the anniversary of the start of WW1 and the D-Day landings, as well as the withdrawal of UK troops from Afghanistan, meant there would be added “intensity” and “poignancy” to events.

He also said “the proximity of the sense of threat for this weekend” had “intensified” security levels.

But “we’ve just got to keep continuing our normal life,” he said.

“The last thing that we at all would want to do is succumb to any sense that there is a terrorist threat there that is at all going to stop the British way of life.”

Scotland Yard said there would be “appropriate and proportionate” policing at the Cenotaph after four men were arrested on Thursday in west London and High Wycombe in connection with an alleged Islamist terrorism plot on British soil.


At the scene


Lauren Turner, BBC News

The queue may have been stretching down almost to Westminster Bridge, but those waiting to get onto Whitehall were happy to wait.

The security measures saw airport-style scanners used on everyone wanting to witness the Remembrance Sunday commemorations, as well as bags being searched by police officers.

There were also armed police on Whitehall, and officers lining the street.

The increased security did not put people off from attending the annual event – with many saying they welcomed the measures.

Waiting in the queue, Karen Wright, from Kingston-on-Thames, said: “This is our seventh year coming down here. There’s always a handbag search, but nothing like this.”

Her husband Adrian added: “We put up with this because of the current situation – we don’t mind at all.”

Monty Wild, 70, from Droitwich, said: “We expected to queue, with there being a higher threat.

“I’m just glad we live in a country that takes all these precautions and does it so well.”


‘Tremendous debt’

Mr Cameron said: “Today we stand united to remember the courageous men and women who have served our country, defended our freedoms and kept us safe.

“We remember all those who have fallen and those who have risked their lives to protect us.

“We owe each and every member of our armed forces and the families who support them a tremendous debt – one that can never be repaid – and I pay huge tribute to their bravery and resolve.”


World War One Centenary

A poppy on a grave


After dusk falls, images of falling poppies are to be projected on to Big Ben, officially known as Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower.

The Queen and Prince Philip The Queen and Prince Philip attended a remembrance event at the Royal Albert Hall

On Saturday, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family joined veterans and the public at the Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

In Glasgow, a two-minute silence will be observed at the cenotaph in George Square, while in Edinburgh a parade will take place from the castle esplanade to the city’s stone of remembrance.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond will be among those laying wreaths, and a ceremonial gun will be fired.

In Wales, the national service will take place at the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff.

And Secretary of State Theresa Villiers will lay a wreath on behalf of the government at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall.


World War One Centenary

Picture of Private James Beaney


Meanwhile, the National Secular Society has written to the government asking it to review the role of the Church of England at the national ceremony of remembrance, which it argues should be equally inclusive of all citizens, regardless of religion and belief.

The society believes the commemoration should be redesigned to make it an inclusive national event, not led by a single Christian denomination.

Earlier this week, David Cameron announced that a key part of the World War One poppy display at the Tower of London is to remain in place until the end of November.

The installation of ceramic poppies, entitled Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red, is to be dismantled on 12 November.

But the Wave segment will now stay in place until the end of the month before being sent on a tour across the UK until 2018, when it will be joined by the installation’s Weeping Window segment.


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Remembrance Sunday: Nation falls silent as Queen leads commemorations – BBC News