Queen Elizabeth II during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London 081120 CREDIT PA
Remembrance

Queen Leads Nation In Marking Remembrance Sunday

About 150 military personnel took part in the scaled-back service at the Cenotaph in central London.

Queen Elizabeth II during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London 081120 CREDIT PA

The Queen has led the nation in marking Remembrance Sunday, as people around the UK privately paid their respects at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 94-year-old monarch was joined by family members, the Prime Minister and Armed Forces personnel in commemorating the nation’s war dead at the scaled-back service at the Cenotaph in London.

The Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Royal and Earl of Wessex laid wreaths at the ceremony, with the greatly reduced numbers of invited guests required to observe social distancing to meet current lockdown restrictions.

A two-minute silence was observed, with the service closed to the public for the first time, and people urged to stay at home and watch the ceremony on TV

Prince Charles laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen's as she watched from a balcony at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was joined by Labour leader Keir Starmer and former prime ministers John Major, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Theresa May.

Mr Johnson, who paid his respects to the war dead at Uxbridge War Memorial in west London on Saturday, said ahead of the ceremony at the Cenotaph: "We come together every November to commemorate the servicemen and women from Britain and the Commonwealth who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London 081120 CREDIT PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid a wreath during the ceremony at the Cenotaph (Picture: PA).

"In this time of adversity, no virus can stop us from honouring their memory, particularly when we have just celebrated the 75th anniversary of victory in the Second World War."

He added: "And in times of trial, our tributes matter even more. So let’s come together once again and remember those to whom we owe so much."

Also speaking ahead of the service, Keir Starmer said: "2020 has been a year of struggle and sacrifice, and we know many challenges lie ahead.

"But in these difficult times, whenever we are in need of inspiration we can always look with pride, not only to our wartime generations or those who are currently serving our nation at home and abroad, but to all our servicemen and women who throughout this pandemic have stood side by side with our key workers in the battle against this virus.

"So, on this special Remembrance Sunday where we mark 80 years since the Battle of Britain and 75 years since the end of the Second World War, let us say thanks to all those who have served and all those who continue to serve this great country."

Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London wide shot with troops 081120 CREDIT PA
About 150 military personnel took part in the ceremony which was closed to the public for the first time (Picture: PA).

About 150 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force were on parade at the Cenotaph, with musicians from all three services playing traditional music for the service, including the Last Post played by Buglers of the Royal Marines.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Many of the men and women on parade today have already taken part in efforts to fight coronavirus and many more will do so in the weeks to come.

"I applaud their selflessness."

Elsewhere in England, veterans stood in silence at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to pay their respects to the fallen.

Irish premier Micheal Martin laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, the first time he has attended the event since becoming Taoiseach.

In Edinburgh, a closed national service of remembrance was held at the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Queen and the people of Scotland by the Lord Provost and Lord Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.

Due to social distancing measures, only 22 people took part in the ceremony which included senior representatives from the Royal Navy, British Army, and RAF.

However, across Scotland, thousands of veterans, serving military personnel, and members of the public observed the two-minute silence from their doorsteps.

Cover image: The Queen watched on from a balcony at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building (Picture: PA).