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Red Poppy Debate: 5 Famous People Who Have Exercised Their Freedom Of Choice Over The Commemorative Symbol

It's that time of year again..

01/11/2016 12:02

Every year the lead-up to Remembrance Sunday brings with it a renewed debate over the merits of the red poppy.

Broadcasters and celebrities are rarely seen on television without the commemorative symbol adorning their suits and lapels.

On Tuesday a row broke out over whether England players should be able to wear poppies during their World Cup qualifying match.

England is set to face Scotland at Wembley on November 11 but there have been questions raised over whether they would face punishment for wearing the symbol of remembrance, since Fifa does not allowed political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.

The BBC said that the FA is trying to determine what punishment England would face if they went ahead and wore the symbols without permission.

Here we take a look at public figures who have exercised their right not to wear the red poppy. 

  • James McClean
    Niall Carson/PA Archive
    Footballer James McClean sparked controversy last year after he said that he will not be wearing a Remembrance Day poppy on his West Brom shirt.

    The 27-year-old winger will not wear a red poppy because it “stands for all the conflicts that Britain has been involved in”.

    The Irish footballer said that he would “wear it every day of the year” if the symbol only represented World War One and World War Two victims, adding: “[But] because of the history where I come from in Derry, I cannot wear something that represents that [British conflicts].”

    McClean has received death threats in the past for refusing to wear a red poppy.
  • Jon Snow
    Anthony Devlin/PA Archive
    The Channel 4 journalist and presenter has been criticised in the past for not wearing a poppy.

    Yet Jon Snow has hit out at the “poppy fascism” which sees public figures being lambasted for not wearing the red symbol when appearing on television.

    Pointing at his “abstract” choice of ties, the 68-year-old said that he does not believe in “wearing anything which represents any kind of statement”.

    In a blog, Snow wrote: “I am begged to wear an Aids Ribbon, a breast cancer ribbon, a Marie Curie flower… You name it, from the Red Cross to the RNIB, they send me stuff to wear to raise awareness, and I don’t. And in those terms, and those terms alone, I do not and will not wear a poppy.

    “Additionally there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there – ‘he damned well must wear a poppy’.

    "Well I do, in my private life, but I am not going to wear it or any other symbol on air.”
  • Sienna Miller
    Matt Crossick/PA Archive
    During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show in 2015, the 34-year-old actress caused a stir after viewers spotted that her outfit was missing one key garment - a red poppy.

    The missing commemorative flower was particularly noticeable as those who appear on the BBC are rarely seen without a poppy.

    Miller appeared alongside co-star Bradley Cooper, who did wear a poppy, as the pair promoted their film, Burnt.

    A source close to Miller told The Sun she that was wearing the poppy “but it was taken off as she went on air as it was pulling on the clothes”.

    Many people reacted angrily, with some people labelling her “disrespectful” and others telling her “shame on you”.

    Others leapt to Miller’s defence, saying they could not understand the “rage” being directed at the star.
  • Evan Davis
    Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive
    Questions circulated on social media last year about why the Newsnight presenter was not wearing a red poppy in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.

    While some congratulated Davis, saying they warmed to him because of it, others told him to “show some respect”.

    In the past, the 53-year-old presenter said he “approve[d]’ of poppies, but questioned the length of time they are worn for.
  • Charlene White
    Other
    ITV News presenter, Charlene White, was the target of a torrent of abuse following her decision to shun the poppy last year.

    The 36-year-old said that she chooses not to wear a poppy on screen because she feels uncomfortable “supporting just one charity above all others”.

    The presenter said last year that she is not allowed to visually support charities while presenting due to impartiality rules, this includes symbols such as red ribbon for World Aids Day and a purple band for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

    As a result, she does not wear a poppy on air because she believes it to be unfair on other charities.
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