Watch: Duchess of Cornwall remembers war dead on Armistice Day

The Duchess of Cornwall followed in the footsteps of the Duke of Edinburgh when she laid a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Warrior to mark Armistice Day.

Camilla observed the tradition which Philip started as she met dozens of military veterans at the Field of Remembrance in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

At the last resting place of the warrior inside the Abbey, she laid a bouquet which featured red roses and sprigs of rosemary, symbolic of remembrance, as the opening of the field fell on Armistice Day – November 11 – when the First World War ended.

Former sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines fell silent for two minutes at 11am after the Last Post was sounded by a bugler.

Camilla then toured hundreds of plots in the grounds of the Abbey where regiments, military associations and other organisations had laid out tiny crosses in memory of the fallen.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, marks Remembrance week

Credit: REUTERS

The Duchess of Cornwall visits the 93rd Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey

Credit: Max Mumby

A Chelsea Pensioner looks at tributes

Credit: AP

Arthur Barty, the Queen Mother’s driver for 27 years until her death in 2002, was among the veterans and representing a plot for his former unit the Black Watch.

He said: "It’s vital we keep this tradition alive of commemorating the fallen. I came here on Tuesday to make sure everything was in order and our plot looks immaculate."

Regularly attended by The Duke of Edinburgh, who would lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior when his visit to the Field of Remembrance fell on Armistice Day.

In a nod to this tradition, The Duchess of Cornwall today laid flowers at the Grave following her visit. pic.twitter.com/h5hwwnIUgp

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 11, 2021

Chelsea pensioners were dotted around the site with their scarlet coats and Camilla stopped to talk to a few, including Peter Fullelove, a former Black Watch private.

The 88-year-old joked: "I asked the duchess if she stopped because she liked the colour of my coat and she said she did."

Greg Hedges, 56, representing the Staffordshire Regiment Association, chatted to Camilla as she stroked the organisation’s mascot Corporal Watchman VI, a three-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier.

The Duchess of Cornwall at the 93rd Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, which has been held in the grounds of the Abbey since November 1928

Credit: Frank Augstein/Reuters

The Duchess of Cornwall helps make a remembrance poppy

Credit: Geoff Pugh

The former Warrant Officer 2nd Class, who served with the Staffordshire Regiment, said: "She was having a chat to our mascot, they’ve met before and she’s a fan.

"We’ve got people from all over the country who have travelled to be here and it’s important to have that representation and to remember those who have died."

The Field of Remembrance, organised by the Poppy Factory, has been held in the grounds of Westminster Abbey since November 1928 to commemorate those who have lost their lives in the Armed Forces.

At first, only a handful of poppies were planted around a single cross when the Poppy Factory’s founder, Major George Howson, took a group of wounded veterans, a tray of poppies and a collecting tin to the grounds of St Margaret’s Church near the Abbey.

But now tens of thousands of poppies on wooden symbols and tributes are planted every year.

Len Honey, 83 year old military police veteran is pushed in his wheelchair as veterans and representatives from the Armed Forces gather ahead of the arrival of Britain's Camila, Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of the Poppy Factory

Credit: AP

Alice Wingate Pearce, granddaughter of Major General Orde Wingate – the famous leader of the Chindits, a Second World War guerrilla brigade of Gurkha, Burmese and British troops – was proudly wearing his medals, which caught the duchess’s eye.

She said: "It’s a great honour to be here, I haven’t done this before, I explained my grandfather’s medals to the duchess and she said ‘wonderful’."

The Nation remembers 

Armistice Day was disrupted last year and many remembered the nation’s war dead from their homes as they were encouraged to stay there to stop the spread of coronavirus.

This year, with restrictions no longer in place, the nation will be able to observe the two-minute silence at 11am together.

Each year, the two-minute silence marks the end of the four-year conflict in 1918 where an agreement between Germany and the Allies was made "on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month".

Royal Navy personnel spanning forty sections of the British sailing fleet form the ceremonial guard for Sunday's Remembrance parade

Credit: RUSSELL SACH

Royal Navy personnel practicing their marching ahead of Sunday's Remembrance parade

Credit: RUSSELL SACH

1st Battalion of The Duke Of Lancaster's Regiment march through the streets of Liverpool to Our Lady & Saint Nicholas Church before observing a two minute silence to remember the war dead on Armistice Day

Credit: Peter Byrne

A single gun was fired from Edinburgh Castle with local government officials from the city later joining members of the Armed Forces to lay wreaths at the Scott Monument.

In London, hundreds of wreaths will be travelling to major stations from across the country and seas from locations including the Falkland Islands as part of the Poppies to Paddington and Routes of Remembrance campaigns by The Veterans Charity.

On the ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ in 1918 the Armistice was signed.

Today the nation falls silent at 11:00 in an act of Remembrance of all those who have served and sacrificed.#WeWillRememberThem #armisticeday pic.twitter.com/VrvXSaGfs6

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 11, 2021

One of the wreaths has already toured the UK and on Thursday will make its way up the Thames before being carried on board HMS Belfast, a surviving Second World War Navy war ship, and taken to the Tower of London.

Ahead of Armistice Day, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to the fallen heroes and those who continue to serve in the Armed Forces.

He said: "In a year which saw British forces show remarkable bravery to save lives in the evacuation of Kabul it is important we show how grateful we are for your sacrifice and for everything you have done, and continue to do, to keep us safe.

"As every year passes we take one step further away from the wars of the last century where our armed forces, and those who kept the home fires burning, sacrificed so much.

"Remembrance is always a humbling time of year, because I reflect, as we all do, that our country, our way of life, our values and our democracy are hard fought for, by the UK and our allies, through life-ending and life-changing sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we live by every day.

"We will remember them." 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer lays a wreath at the war memorial at Euston Station in London

Credit: PA

Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone led a two-minute silence to mark Armistice Day in the Scottish Parliament alongside opposition leaders and Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Prior to the silence, Ms Johnstone read a short extract from Laurence Binyon’s Ode of Remembrance before The Last Post was played by a bugler.

Standing on the steps of parliament’s garden lobby, Ms Johnstone then recited the Kohima Epitaph before SNP MSP played the flowers of the forest folk song on the bagpipes.

Today the Prime Minister observed the Two Minute Silence in remembrance of those who fought and died for this country.#LestWeForget#ArmisticeDay pic.twitter.com/eV8VPJmNqJ

— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) November 11, 2021

Meanwhile, the UK Pavilion stood still at the Cop26 UN climate summit. 

Cop26 president Alok Sharma, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and others stood in silence at the pavilion on Thursday morning.

Screens at the pavilion are displaying poppies.

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