UK

Remembrance Sunday: Prince Charles Leads Tributes To War Dead

Wreaths laid at Cenotaph repeated at war memorials around the country.

12/11/2017 16:45 GMT | Updated 13/11/2017 00:33 GMT

The nation fell silent at 11am as people across the country reflected on the sacrifices made by fallen soldiers on Remembrance Sunday.

The Prince of Wales laid the first of many wreaths at the Cenotaph in a scene repeated at war memorials around the country.

The Queen had asked Charles to lay her wreath at the Whitehall memorial, in what is believed to be the first time the monarch has broken with tradition and not performed the symbolic duty when at the central London service.

Some reports suggested the Queen appeared to wipe away a tear during the ceremony on a bitterly cold day in the capital. 

Wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial by senior royals and political leaders including the prime minister, Theresa May, and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh watched the service from a Foreign and Commonwealth Office balcony.

The Cenotaph ceremony is a poignant event in the life of the nation, which normally involves the Queen leading the country in remembering those who have died in world wars and other conflicts, so Charles’s role in laying the wreath was a significant moment.

Buckingham Palace announced the change last month, which is seen as part of the subtle shift of head of state duties from the Queen to the heir to the throne.

Earlier this year, Philip, 96, retired from his solo public duties, but on occasion has joined the Queen at her official engagements.

Philip’s equerry laid his wreath, while Charles also laid his own wreath. The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent also laid wreaths.

Other political figures laying wreaths included the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, and the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow. 

IN PICTURES: Remembrance Sunday 2017

  • Toby Melville / Reuters
    The Queen stands in silence at the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service in London.
  • PA Wire/PA Images
    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stands next to Prime Minister Theresa May, with former prime ministers Tony Blair (left) and Sir John Major, standing behind them, as they wait to lay wreaths during the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London.
  • Chris Jackson via Getty Images
    Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial.
  • Toby Melville / Reuters
    Hundreds of veterans stand in silence in Whitehall during the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service.
  • Mark Cuthbert via Getty Images
    The Duchess of Cambridge with the Countess of Wessex and Princess Alexandra during the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial.
  • PA Wire/PA Images
    Chelsea pensioners take part in the parade during the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph memorial.
  • Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters
    A wreath dedicated to the army is seen during the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph wreath laying ceremony and commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the IRA Enniskillen bombing in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
  • Mark Cuthbert via Getty Images
    Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew during the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial.
  • Peter Nicholls / Reuters
    A soldier salutes as he parades past Britain's Prince Edward during the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service.
  • Peter Nicholls / Reuters
    The formal gun salute fires at the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service.
  • Peter Nicholls / Reuters
    Veterans wait for the service to start at the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service.
  • PA Wire/PA Images
    Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cornwall observe from a balcony.
  • Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters
    Flags from the Royal British Legion are held to the ground during the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph wreath laying ceremony and commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the IRA Enniskillen bombing.

Joining the Queen in observing the service from Foreign Office balconies were the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex, Princess Alexandra, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.

The firing of a gun marked the end of the silence, and the Last Post was sounded by the Buglers of the Royal Marines before the wreaths were laid.

Charles has laid a wreath before on behalf of the Queen, in 1983 when she was out of the country, and when the Queen was in South Africa in 1999 she laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Durban.

This year marks the centenaries of women’s service in the regular armed forces, the Battle of Passchendaele and the creation of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as the 100th birthday of forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn.

It also marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein and the creation of the RAF Regiment.