The Queen, Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are leading politicians and royals paying their respects to Britain’s war dead at the Cenotaph today.
Strict social distancing is in place to allow the ceremony to go ahead this morning despite the threat of coronavirus.
The public are unable to attend because of lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people across the UK will instead be privately paying their respects from home.
At the Cenotaph, around 10,000 veterans would normally pay their respects, but this year there are just 26 because of the risks presented by Covid-19.
As well as Mr Johnson and Sir Keir, former Prime Ministers David Cameron, Tony Blair and Theresa May, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey were among the politicians in attendance.
As the clock struck 11am, Mr Johnson, Prince Charles, Prince William and other members of Britain’s elite marked the two-minute silence before laying their wreaths.
The Queen watched on from the royal box near the Cenotaph as Prince Charles laid a wreath on her behalf.
The Queen, Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson lead politicians and royals who paid their respects to Britain’s war dead at the Cenotaph today
Strict social distancing is in place to allow the ceremony to go ahead this morning despite the threat of coronavirus. Pictured: The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge keep their distance as they watch Sunday’s commemorations
The public are unable to attend because of lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people across the UK will instead be privately paying their respects from home
Today’s Remembrance Sunday service is going ahead but the British public cannot attend as normal because of the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: The military band playing this morning at the Cenotaph
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were among the leading politicians who laid wreaths at the Cenotaph this morning
The Queen watched on from the royal box near the Cenotaph as Prince Charles laid a wreath on her behalf
The annual Remembrance Sunday service is going ahead this morning but the public are unable to attend because of lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
Among the other members of the Royal Family present were the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne.
Ahead of today’s service, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said ‘no virus can stop us’ from commemorating the country’s war dead as he paid his respects at Uxbridge War Memorial in west London at a low-key event on Saturday.
He said: ‘We come together every November to commemorate the servicemen and women from Britain and the Commonwealth who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
‘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.
‘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.’
In a video message ahead of his attendance at the Remembrance Sunday service, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘2020 has been a year of struggle and sacrifice, and we know many challenges lie ahead.
Mr Johnson was the first of Britain’s politicians to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph this morning as Britain marked Remembrance Sunday
Prince William followed his father in laying a wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph. He was joined by Britain’s most prominent politicians
‘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.’
Sir Kier, along with Mr Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and the SNP’s leader in the House of Commons Sir Ian Blackford, was earlier pictured walking down Downing Street on his way to the Cenotaph on Sunday.
At the Cenotaph, around 10,000 veterans would normally pay their respects, but this year there are just 26 because of the risks presented by Covid-19. Pictured: The veterans today
The Duchess of Cambridge wore a beret-style fascinator and a coat which featured military-style detailing as she joined her husband Prince William at the Cenotaph
Past and present: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his predecessor, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, walk down Downing Street to the Cenotaph ahead of today’s ceremony
How to get involved in Remembrance Sunday
Even though this year’s Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph is closed to the public, the Government says there are many ways you can get involved.
People have been invited to share their personal stories and family histories on social media using the hashtag #WeWillRememberThem.
They are also invited to post a tribute to the Royal British Legion’s virtual Field of Remembrance or on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Wall of Remembrance.
Britons can also watch Sunday’s Cenotaph service on television and online
Other ways to get involved include:
Supporting the Poppy appeal by donating through the post and displaying your own poppy or Remembrance window display.
Hold a small Remembrance service in your garden or write letters of remembrance to veterans or serving personnel.
Look up your own family history on Ancestry. The firm has made them free to access to mark this year’s commemorations.
The Royal Air Force Museum is asking people to write poems to go on its online gallery.
The Queen and members of the royal family are expected to join the country in commemorating the nation’s war dead at the Cenotaph.
Among those who are expected are the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duke of Sussex stepped down as a working member of the royal family and now lives in California.
But in a podcast to mark Remembrance Sunday the former Army officer said: ‘Being able to wear my uniform, being able to stand up in service of one’s country, these are amongst the greatest honours there are in life.
‘To me, the uniform is a symbol of something much bigger, it’s symbolic of our commitment to protecting our country, as well as protecting our values.
‘These values are put in action through service, and service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos.’
In a brief ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday, the Queen commemorated the 100th anniversary of the interment of the Unknown Warrior, who represents the First World War soldiers whose place of death is not known or whose remains are unidentified.
The 94-year-old monarch had requested the service – her first public engagement in London since March – after she was advised not to attend an abbey service marking the warrior’s centenary next week, which the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are expected to join on November 11, Armistice Day.
People are being encouraged to join commemorations on Sunday by sharing family histories, personal stories and messages of remembrance using the hashtag £WeWillRememberThem online.
Meanwhile, genealogy company Ancestry has made more than one billion UK wartime records free to access over the weekend for people to discover the roles their family played in the First and Second World Wars.
About 150 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will be on parade at the Cenotaph, with musicians from all three services to play 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.’
To mark Remembrance Sunday, members of the public have been encouraged to share their family histories and commemorative messages online using the hashtag #WeWillRememberThem.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘While this year’s service is a little different to normal, I want to encourage everyone to get involved from their own homes – watch on your TV, research your family history – but most importantly, keep safe.’
The commemorations come after the former head of the Royal Navy Lord West of Spithead led a backlash against a ban on services inside churches and warned veterans faced catching pneumonia by being forced to stand outside.
As a result of winter coronavirus lockdown restrictions, most religious services are banned and anyone caught attending one could face a £200 fine.
John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway, the 101-year-old last survivor of the Battle of Britain, is said to be upset by the move.
His son Brian Hemingway said the veteran ‘feels sad,’ people will not be able to come together on Sunday.
But growing uproar from former senior members of the armed forces, and former defence secretary Michael Fallon, has seen calls for an exemption so the day can be properly commemorated.
Lord West of Spithead, the former First Sea Lord, told The Telegraph: ‘If you look at the average size of a church there must be a way of letting veterans in with social distancing.
‘It seems very silly to have them standing outside in the freezing cold. This puts them more at risk. They will die of pneumonia rather than Covid.’
The Royal British Legion earlier confirmed there will not be the annual March Past the Cenotaph.
On its website the charity said it recognised the decision was ‘deeply disappointing,’ adding it was taken following Government advice.
Guidance from the Government allows local authorities in England to organise events at a ‘public war memorial or cenotaph’ so long as they are held outdoors, they are short and those in attendance observe social distancing measures.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May also criticised the decision to ban church services.
She told the House of Commons: ‘The Covid-secure Remembrance service in Worcester Cathedral is now going to be turned into a pre-recorded online service.
‘Surely those men and women who gave down their lives for our freedom deserve better than this?’
Former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, said: ‘Veterans are perfectly capable of social distancing and wearing face masks for half an hour and I hope the Government will think again. It seems ridiculous. We trusted veterans to put their lives on the line for the country but we cannot trust them to stand two metres apart in church.’
Several members in the House of Lords raised concerns over the impact of the move on people’s mental health, pointing out that for many elderly people attending church was their only regular social activity.
Defending the rule, Communities Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: ‘We have come to a critical point in the fight against Covid-19.’
Stressing the need to ‘limit our interaction with others’, he said: ‘Therefore, with great regret, while places of worship will remain open for individual prayer, communal worship cannot take place at this time.’
Although the public are unable to attend today’s ceremony, the event will be broadcast live on multiple channels, with people encouraged to take part in the two-minute silence at home. Pictured: Scottish Second World War veterans Ronnie Wilson (left) and Cathy Drummond pose with their war medals outside their homes ahead of Sunday’s commemorations
The Liberal Democrats’ leader Sir Ed Davey was also pictured on his way to the Cenotaph, along with the SNP’s House of Commons leader Sir Ian Blackford
Prince Harry, who spent 10 years in the armed forces, described the day as ‘a moment for respect and for hope’, in an interview with the Declassified podcast
Pressing the minister, Tory peer Lord Cormack said he had ‘not given a single shred of evidence as to why churches should not be open for public worship’.
He said a remembrance service had been planned for this Sunday in Lincoln Cathedral, which was ‘an immense space where everybody can be properly socially distanced’.
Lord Cormack added: ‘Instead, the Government have come up with an imbecilic answer – that the veterans, all of whom are 90 and over, can stand in the cold and be rained on, but they cannot go into a safe, socially distanced cathedral.
‘This is a disgrace.’
The Cenotaph would ordinarily be thronged with members of the armed forces, veterans and ordinary Britons on Remembrance Sunday
The Queen wears a face mask for the first time in public as she marks centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey
By Bridie Pearson-Jones and Jack Wright for MailOnline
The Queen wore a face mask for the first time in public last week as she marked the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior in a small private ceremony in Westminster Abbey.
Her Majesty, 94, honoured the British serviceman, whose identity remains a mystery, and the Royal Family‘s own associations with World War One at the London abbey ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
The head of state, who was dressed all in black as she placed an orchid and myrtle bouquet on the grave, was required to cover her face during the act of worship under government restrictions.
It reflected the custom of Royal bridal bouquets being placed on the grave, a tradition which began in 1923 when Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, laid her bouquet as she entered the Abbey in memory of her brother Fergus, who was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.
Many Royal brides since have sent their bouquets to the grave at Westminster Abbey.
Before her death in 2002, The Queen Mother also requested her funeral wreath be placed on the grave of the Unknown Warrior – a wish honoured at the Abbey the day after her funeral.
Tribute: The Queen commemmorates the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior, an unidentified British serviceman who died in WW1, in Westminster Abbey on Wednesday
Paying her respects: The Dean of Westminster Abbey David Hoyle (right) watches as The Queen’s Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior in front of the Queen in Westminster Abbey
Commemoration: The Queen inspects a bouquet of flowers to be placed at the grave of the Unknown Warrior by her Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah
Paying her respects: The Queen, 94, travelled by car from Windsor Castle to London to commemorate the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior, according to the Court Circular. The Queen was photographed leaving Windsor Castle yesterday (pictured) before returning two hours later but the reason for the outing was not announced
Tribute: Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey
Paying respects: The Queen’s Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of the Queen during a ceremony at Westminster Abbey
Tribute: The Queen inspects a bouquet of flowers placed on her behalf at the grave of the Unknown Warrior by her Equerry
Which Royal bridal bouquets were laid on the grave of the Unknown Warrior?
The Queen Mother, 1923
The Queen, 1947
Princess Margaret, 1960
Princess Alexandra, 1963
The Princess Royal, 1973
Diana, Princess of Wales, 1981
Sarah, Duchess of York, 1986
The Countess of Wessex, 1999
The Duchess of Cornwall, 2005
The Duchess of Cambridge, 2011
The Duchess of Sussex, 2018
Princess Eugenie, 2018
Princess Beatrice, 2020
During the ceremony this week, Her Majesty also joined the Dean of Westminster in prayers and a moment of reflection after the bouquet was laid on the grave, before The Queen’s Piper played a lament, The Flowers of the Forest.
The grave of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified British serviceman who died on the battlefields during the First World War. The serviceman’s body was brought from Northern France and buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920 after a procession through Whitehall.
The Queen’s grandfather, King George V, placed a wreath on the coffin at the Cenotaph, which was unveiled on the processional route.
His Majesty later dropped a handful of earth from France onto the serviceman’s coffin as it was lowered into the grave at the Abbey.
He was joined at the burial by his son, the future King George VI.
The Unknown Warrior became an important symbol of mourning for bereaved families, representing all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was not known, or whose bodies remained unidentified. It remains a solemn tribute to all service personnel who have lost their lives in combat.
The Queen was photographed leaving Windsor Castle on Wednesday before returning two hours later, where it is understood she is now self-isolating with husband Prince Philip, 99.
She looked sombre in a black ensemble, typically only worn while in mourning, attending a funeral, or for Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday services.
The Court Circular for November 4 reads: ‘The Queen this morning commemorated the Centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, London SW1, and was received at the Great West Door by the Dean of Westminster (the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle).’
Tribute: The Queen pays tribute to the Unknown Warrior while her Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, carries a bouquet of flowers to place at his grave
Tribute: The Unknown Soldier was buried at Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1920 but lockdown restrictions mean commemorations had to take place in advance. File image
The Queen’s Piper plays during a ceremony in London’s Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen last week
Royal commemorations: The Duchess of Cornwall also carried out an engagement at Westminster Abbey yesterday, standing in for Prince Harry to visit the Field of Remembrance
Sporting a poppy facemask, Camilla, 73, honoured the servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives for their country and stood in solemn silence as the Last Post was played
This tradition was first completed by the Queen Mother when she married King George VI in 1923. Pictured is Princess Beatrice’s wedding bouquet on the grave earlier this year
King George V paying his tribute to the Unknown Warrior as he placed a wreath on the coffin, mounted on a gun carriage, at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall in 1920
The Unknown Warrior’s coffin resting in Westminster Abbey, in London, before the burial ceremony in 1920
The Queen has carried out only a handful of engagements since March and is expected to keep a low profile over the next month as she and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, spend lockdown together at Windsor Castle.
The Duchess of Cornwall also carried out an engagement at Westminster Abbey yesterday, standing in for Prince Harry to visit the Field of Remembrance.
She then stood in front of crosses from the Graves of the Unknown as the Dean offered prayers, before solemnly laying her own cross of remembrance and bowing her head in reflection.
A bugler played the Last Post, followed by a two-minute silence, and then Exhortation to Remembrance, as Big Ben chimed at 2pm.
Afterwards the duchess toured the 308 plots filled with more than 60,000 crosses and symbols of all faiths, laid by staff and volunteers, with Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis, President of The Poppy Factory.
Remembrance Sunday services, which are traditionally part of communal worship, cannot go ahead as planned on November 8 due to lockdown restrictions
However, rather than being banned entirely the Government has set out a series of guidelines for local authorities and faith leaders hoping to hold the services.
The coffin was laid in the ancient abbey ahead of its burial, two years after the end of the First World War
The burial ceremony of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey was attended by prominent politicians and members of the public
The warrior’s coffin was carried into the Abbey by soldiers who were flanked by fellow military personnel ahead of the burial ceremony
In 1981, the Princess of Wales’s bridal bouquet was laid on to the grave of the Unknown warrior after her wedding to Prince Charles