Remembrance Sunday: Queen Sheds a Tear as Britain Honours War Dead, Veterans

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TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

LONDON (AP) – Queen Elizabeth II joined Britons in remembering their war dead, as the country’s political leaders paused campaigning for the Dec. 12 election to take part in a sombre Remembrance Sunday service in London.

The queen, dressed in black, watched from a balcony as her son and heir Prince Charles laid a wreath of scarlet poppies on the Cenotaph war memorial near Parliament.

The 93-year-old monarch, who served as an army mechanic during World War II, performed the wreath-laying for most of her 67-year reign, but has cut back on her public duties. An aide laid a wreath on behalf of the queen’s 98-year-old husband Prince Philip, who served in the Mediterranean during the war but has retired from public engagements.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 10: Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiègne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – 11am on the 11th November 1918. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The ceremony takes place every year on the nearest Sunday to the anniversary of the end of World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.

Thousands of military personnel, veterans and members of the public gathered in the streets around the Cenotaph to honour those killed in that war and subsequent conflicts.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 10: Veterans use a black poppy cab following the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiegne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – 11am on the 11th November 1918. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

 

remembrance

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 10: A Veteran uses a black poppy cab following the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiegne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – 11am on the 11th November 1918. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

 

remembrance

Military veterans and servicepeople prepare to take part in the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 10, 2019. – Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

As Parliament’s Big Ben bell sounded at 11 a.m., the crowd fell silent for a two-minute pause. The silence was broken by a single artillery blast and Royal Marines buglers sounding “The Last Post.”

A military band played as royals, politicians, leaders from many religious faiths and diplomats from the Commonwealth of former British colonies laid wreaths on the Portland stone monument, erected after World War I and inscribed with the words “the glorious dead.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and other political leaders took time out from campaigning to join the ceremony on a cold, sunny autumn morning.

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Military veterans take part in the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 10, 2019. – Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

 

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Military veterans take part in a procession during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 10, 2019. – Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

remembrance

Military veterans take part in the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 10, 2019. – Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

 

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) attend the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiegne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – 11am on the 11th November 1918. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

But the politicians did not entirely steer clear of partisan point-scoring. In a Remembrance Sunday message, Johnson said the Conservative government had established an Office for Veteran Affairs “as a sign of my commitment to those who have served.”

In his own message, Corbyn claimed that service personnel “have faced pay cuts, service accommodation left in disrepair, and are worried their children are left without the support that they need.”

After the formal wreath-laying, thousands of veterans, war widows and their families marched past the monument to the sound of a military band, applauded by well-wishers lining the sidewalks. Almost everyone wore a red paper poppy – the official symbol of remembrance – on their lapel.

Similar ceremonies were held in dozens of towns and cities across Britain and at British military bases overseas.

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Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, (L) and Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (R) lay a wreath at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 10, 2019. – Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

remembrance

Military veterans and members of a military band take part in the parade during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 10, 2019. – Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP)

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