Charles leads nation on Remembrance Sunday
The King yesterday honoured the nation’s war dead for the first time as monarch and laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in remembrance of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thousands of veterans, military families and the public packed Whitehall for the Remembrance Sunday ceremony and watched
as Charles placed his floral tribute at the base of the memorial on Whitehall.
In recent years, the King had performed the role on behalf of the Queen as the Prince of Wales, but as the first chimes of Big Ben rang out at 11am yesterday and a two-minute silence began, he stood before the Cenotaph in his role as head of state.
A volley from a gun fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery from nearby Horse Guards Parade rang out to signal the start of the two minutes of silent reflection, punctuated by the sound of London traffic, and another loud blast marked its end.
King Charles laid his wreath, its design a tribute to ones used by his late mother and grandfather George VI, after buglers from the Royal Marines played the Last Post. The wreath was soon joined by others left by the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Wessex, and the Princess Royal, with the Queen Consort's assistant equerry, Captain Edward Andersen, laying her tribute.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute to the fallen on behalf of the government by leaving a wreath, followed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, other party leaders, senior members of the cabinet, military chiefs of staff and high commissioners.
A short service followed the laying of the main wreaths, with the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, delivering a prayer.
The Remembrance Sunday ceremony had added poignancy this year as it is the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War, with former veterans marching past the Cenotaph. Retired Brigadier Jon Mullin, who served as a Lieutenant in the 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers during the conflict, marched with the South Atlantic Medal Association 82.
Reflecting on the sacrifices made to liberate the Falklands, he said: “I wanted to be part of a national commemoration to commemorate all those people who did this wonderful feat of arms and put it all together, and many have passed on in the intervening years. I think it's important that the nation doesn't forget the sacrifices.”
The day was marked around the UK, with services also taking place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and the WW1 Memorial in Portsmouth.
Flight Lieutenant Chris Halliwell, an RAF Police reservist whose great grandfather fought in the First World War and was wounded at Gallipoli, said the day had brought out an enormous “sense of pride”. He said: “It’s a moment of history, it's the first time the new king has presided over this ceremony, so to be here for that event is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Unseasonably mild weather made it the warmest Remembrance Sunday on record. Temperatures reached a high of 21.2C in Porthmadog, Wales. England and Scotland also broke records for the warmest Remembrance Day with highs of 19.2C in Bridgefoot, Cumbria, and 17.2C in Aviemore. Castlederg in Co Tyrone saw a maximum of 16.5C, which was 0.2C below the record for Northern Ireland.
The Met Office tweeted: “It’s been an exceptionally mild day for most of us and the warmest RemembranceSunday on record in the UK England, Wales and Scotland have all provisionally broken their previous maximum temperature records with Northern Ireland just 0.20C shy of their record.”
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