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Remembrance Day 2012: Queen Leads Tributes To War Dead (PICTURES)

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The country fell silent today to remember its war dead at services across the country as the Queen led the nation in honouring the fallen.

At the Cenotaph memorial in London the monarch laid the first wreath to commemorate members of the Armed Forces who died fighting in all conflicts since the First World War.

In brilliant autumn sunshine, senior members of the monarchy joined Prime Minister David Cameron, military chiefs, servicemen and women and thousands of watching spectators in paying their respects.

When the first stroke of eleven sounded from nearby Big Ben, Whitehall observed a two-minute silence only punctuated by the hum of distant London traffic and birds.

queen

The Queen laid a wreath at the Cenotaph

The Queen laid the first wreath, followed by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Then the Duke of Cambridge, wearing his RAF uniform, laid a wreath, under the gaze of the Duchess of Cambridge, who watched from a balcony at the Foreign Office alongside the Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal's husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence.

William was followed by the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal, Prince Michael of Kent and Field Marshal Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank.

Wreaths were also laid by Mr Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, opposition leader Ed Miliband and Westminster Plaid Cymru group leader Elfyn Llwyd, as well as high commissioners from Commonwealth countries and leaders of the Armed Forces.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall earlier attended a ceremony in Auckland as part of their Jubilee tour of New Zealand.

Under grey skies the royals sat with New Zealand's prime minister John Key, veterans from across the decades, and members of the public around the Auckland Cenotaph.

The Duke of Kent was also overseas, representing the Queen at a service in the Falkland Islands.

Thousands of people also respected the two-minute silence on Twitter, abstaining from posting messages during the period of reflection.

The idea was spread using the hashtag #2minutesilence.

In Northern Ireland, the prime minister of the Republic of Ireland Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended the remembrance service in Enniskillen.

The symbolic visit came as the Co Fermanagh town marked the 25th anniversary of the IRA Poppy Day bomb attack, which claimed the lives of 12 people.

Mr Kenny laid a laurel wreath at the cenotaph, only yards from where the no-warning blast detonated a quarter of a century ago.

Veterans' representatives laid wreaths at the Cenotaph before almost 10,000 ex-servicemen and women marched past to commemorate their fallen comrades.

This year's Remembrance commemoration is the first to take place since the death of the last veteran to serve during the First World War on either side, according to the Royal British Legion.

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There was warm applause from the crowd as the parade marched past the giant war memorial, inscribed to The Glorious Dead.

The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, hosted an outdoor service of remembrance.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester represented the Queen at the service, which was attended by more than 3,000 people.

The arboretum's focal point, the national Armed Forces Memorial, is designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight dissects its inner and outer walls, falling on a bronze wreath sculpture.

The Portland stone memorial is the nation's tribute to more than 16,000 servicemen and women who have died on duty, or as a result of terrorism, since 1948.

Charlie Bagot Jewitt, the arboretum's chief executive, said: "The remembrance period is of course a particularly busy time for the arboretum, but this year, with Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday coinciding, our annual service of remembrance had to be on a much larger scale than usual.

"We are honoured to host such an important event and would like to thank everyone who attended, took part in or watched the service and paid their respects to our fallen servicemen and women."

In Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond joined the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh Donald Wilson, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, military leaders, veterans and serving personnel at the Stone of Remembrance at the City Chambers in Edinburgh.

He observed a two minute silence and laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Scotland.

The First Minister then attended a Service of Remembrance at St Giles Cathedral.

He said: "Today presents every man, woman and child in Scotland with the opportunity to pause and reflect on the immense sacrifice which so many have made to protect our way of life and freedom down the years.

"This moment allows us to pay tribute to all of our servicemen and women, past and present, who have laid down their lives in defence of our country and whose sacrifice will never be forgotten.

"It is important that we also remember that today's commemoration is not simply about historical events but also about the sacrifices servicemen and women today continue to make."

The crowds watching the service in central London could be the largest yet, the Royal British Legion said.

The charity's head of remembrance, Helen Hill, said that numbers were swollen as recent conflicts brought the realities of war home to a new generation and created "people who are aged 18-and-a-half who are veterans of recent conflicts".

"Once again the British public has shown its support," she said, adding that the number of veterans marching had increased by 3,000 in the last five years.

"The numbers are going up, not down. There are an increasing number of associations looking after the veteran community. More and more people want to participate in the activities."

Corporal of Horse Alistair Grice, from the Blues and Royals Household Cavalry Regiment, said: "It's a day of remembering and a celebration of what we have got and what we are fortunate to have."

The 35-year-old, from from Coppull in Lancashire, who served in conflicts from Bosnia onwards said he would be remembering comrades from his unit including Trooper James Munday, who died in an explosion in Afghanistan on October 15 2008 and Lance Corporal Jonathan Woodgate, 26, who was killed on March 26, 2010.

Cpl Grice added: "It's amazing to see how many people, not just British but foreign as well, who are here to support the British Armed Forces and what we have done in the past.

"What has made it such a special day is that everybody just comes out. If you look at the social websites and the TV and everyone is remembering us."

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