The Queen has paid tribute to British and Commonwealth First World War dead by visiting a unique poppy memorial commemorating their sacrifice and laying a wreath. The Queen laid her own floral tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice surrounded by a sea of red ceramic poppies in the former moat of the Tower of London.
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and by Armistice Day on November 11 there will be 888,246 ceramic poppies planted, one for each British and Colonial death during the conflict which began 100 years ago.
Mr Cummins, who met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during their visit to the Tower said: "I was inspired to create this installation after reading a living will by an unknown soldier who we think may have been from Derby.
"I approached the Tower as the ideal setting as its strong military links seemed to resonate. The installation is transient, I found this poignant and reflective of human life, like those who lost their lives during the First World War. I wanted to find a fitting way to remember them."
Stage designer Tom Piper helped Mr Cummins make his vision a reality along with a team of 8,000 volunteers who installed the flowers. When the Queen and Duke first arrived at the imposing Tower of London they were met by its Constable, General the Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, and Colonel Richard Harrold, Governor of the medieval fortress.
In an ancient ceremony they surrendered their ceremonial keys of office to the Queen and she symbolically touched the objects. The Queen and Duke walked through a path in the poppies to a small mound where Yeoman Warder Jim Duncan was holding the royal wreath. The Queen touched it and it was carefully placed on a small mound by the Yeoman Warder.
Hundreds of spectators lined the perimeter of the moat watching the solemn event and kept a respectful silence.
Stage designer Tom Piper, who helped create the poppy installation, said the Queen described the artwork as "impressive". He added: "She was very keen to know the numbers involved. It's captured the imagination of the whole nation so I think it's wonderful we've had the Queen at one end and also completely ordinary people at the other coming. It's got completely across society."
Later the royal couple were driven into the Tower complex in their state limousine while being escorted by a Yeoman body made up of more than 20 men. The car travelled at walking pace along Water Lane, past traitors' gate and around William the Conquerer's White Tower to the Chapel Royal of St Peter Ad Vincula where the Queen and Philip were greeted by the Rev Canon Roger Hall, the chapel's Chaplain, and the Bishop of London the Right Reverend Richard Chartres.
Three queens, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey, and two saints of the Roman Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and John Fisher, are buried in the place of worship. The royal couple attended a private service of thanksgiving to mark a project to restore and conserve the chapel.
After the service the Queen and Duke visited the Tudor chapel's refurbished undercroft and the memorial to Sir Thomas More - a former Lord Chancellor executed for refusing to recognise Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon.