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Remembrance Sunday

Here in Great Britain it is Remembrance Sunday.

Today, we commemorate the fallen of two world wars, and all the conflicts which have happened since then, on the Sunday that is closest to the 11th November.  And on Armistice Day, at 11 o’clock, on the 11th day of the 11th month, we stand silent for one minute, regardless of where we are, to pay our respects to those who gave their lives for us, and today as the chime of Big Ben resounds over London, we stand for two minutes’ silence.

This year, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen, whose wreath is on behalf of the nation.  I took the above photo (from the television) and it was a complete chance that as the camera was showing Prince Charles, the shutter of my camera closed just as the television camera then went to Her Majesty, watching the ceremony from the balcony nearby.  I find the double portrait quite moving.  It is one I would normally discard as not being quite perfect, but by sheer chance I have the monarch and the monarch-in-waiting pictured together.

It was a clear, sunny morning in Whitehall, and it’s wonderful how quiet and respectful the many thousands of people are who come each year to this service.

Once everyone is in place, the clergy have taken up their places as well, the royal personages arrive, led this year by the Prince of Wales, with his sons Princes William and Henry (the commentator gave him his correct title of Prince Henry of Wales, today, not Prince Harry as he is known to everyone.)  Also there were The Duke of Wessex (Prince Edward), the Princess Royal (Princes  Anne), and the Duke of Kent.  *I didn’t see The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) – perhaps he was there but I just didn’t see him.  Watching from the balcony was, as I showed in my first photo, Her Majesty The Queen and also Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

*I have just watched (8 pm this evening) some footage of the ceremony and yes, The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) was there, next to Princes William and Henry. Also, The Duchess of Cornwall was on the balcony with HM The Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. 

and on the adjacent balcony, Princess Alexandra of Kent (sister of the Duke of Kent), The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Wessex.

Apologies for a not very clear photo, I was hoping my camera would focus quickly but it takes its time and I wanted to photograph them before the TV camera showed something else.

The Prince of Wales laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen, which she has always laid on behalf of the nation. And then he laid his own wreath as Prince of Wales, which is always arranged as the Prince of Wales feathers.

There followed wreath-laying by other members of the royal family on behalf of the various armed forces which they represent.

And after the brief service of Remembrance, and the singing of the National Anthem, the service drew to a close, the royals and clergy removed themselves from their positions by The Cenotaph, the national memorial to the fallen designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, such a simple memorial but so moving in what it represents, upholding the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Above, choristers of The Chapels Royal return indoors after the brief service, their attire remaining the same since the reign or Charles II.

There then followed the wreath-laying by the Government, led by the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, followed by Jeremy Corbyn, for Her Majesty’s Opposition.  The various High Commissioners of the many Commonwealth Countries then laid their wreaths, and also the representative for the Royal British Legion who organize this annual commemoration.

Then began the march past, the ex-servicemen and -women, around 9,000 of them, including some Chelsea Pensioners, i.e. veterans who live in The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, in their scarlet uniforms.

This gentleman, and I do hope he won’t mind my using this photograph which I took from the television, served in Korea, and he now lives in the Royal Hospital, which is what the RH on his cap stands for.

It is always a moving service, one in which the nation comes together to remember all those who gave their lives to keep our country and the countries of the commonwealth free from tyranny.   May they rest in peace.

Until next time.


About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Thank you for this lovely tribute. There is something to be said for upholding tradition.

    • Margaret Powling

      I am glad you also appreciate this tradition. One of the best books I have read on the subject of the immediate aftermath of World War 1, is Juliet Nicholson’s The Great Silence 1918-1920, Living in the Shadow of the Great War. It tells the ‘story’ of the unknown soldier, how he was chosen and the designing by Lutyens of the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

  2. Very moving ceremony and informative post. Your “by accident” photo is amazing, Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Bess. Yes, sometimes the best photographs happen accidentally. But I do think it says much: the old monarch gradually handing over some of the duties to the man who will be her successor. If I’d tried to take this image from the TV I wouldn’t have been able to manage it – it happened quite by accident.

  3. very moving. You captured something with this post, something indefinable but it brought tears to my eyes. I am really embarrassed to say that I had forgotten that we do have Remembrance Day here, 1 minute of silence for the fallen. This sounds a bit crass, but a big football match was on & the silence was just before it started. On the plus side, it would have captured half of the country.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Ratnamurti, I’m humbled that my post has brought tears to your eyes. Remembrance Day in the UK is honoured not only in London but in towns and villages throughout the country. On Armistice Day, the 11th November, in memory of the time when the guns stopped in 1918, the nation, in stores and businesses, tends now to cease work for a minute and stand in silence at 11 o’clock. Not everywhere, but this is gaining momentum, and there is a call to have the service in London actually on Armistice Day, rather on the Sunday nearest Armistice Day. However, I don’t see this happening because life goes on, and stopping all the traffic and having between 9,000 and 10,000 men and women marching down Whitehall wouldn’t be practical in a busy city.

  4. Thank you for such a poignant and moving post Margaret, it is always so humbling to watch the veterans match past the Cenotaph.
    I always listen to Clare Balding’s radio show when driving to the yard first thing on Sunday morning and today she played the most beautiful acoustic version of I vow to thee my country, such stirring words and the perfect sentiment to a day of Remembrance, I really must find out who the performer was.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Elaine, for your kind comment. These days I seldom listen to the radio but I love that hymn, the music coming from Holst’s The Planets’ Suite and I wish I could’ve heard it. Beautiful music and wonderful words.

      • I have just checked on the BBC website and it was sung by Beck Goldsmith, I really must download it so that I can listen to it again.
        As a child we lived in Thaxted where Gustav Holst lived for a while during which time he worked on the Planets Suite, you can imagine how many times we sung that Hymn in school.

        • Margaret Powling

          I had no idea that Holst had lived in Thaxted. Yes, no doubt you sung this ad nauseam at school! I must see if I can hear that recording by Beck Goldsmith (haven’t heard of this singer before.)

  5. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    What a beautifully presented tribute. It is always a very moving service.
    We do this kind of thing very well in England.
    The photograph of The Queen and Prince Charles is very clever, even if taken unwittingly.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Eloise. Yes, we do ceremonial and tributes very well in England. Even though those in the forefront of such occasions, usually The Queen and her family, and the costumes and uniforms are often considered rather Ruritanian, as if from a Gilbert & Sullivan opera, the actual ceremonials themselves are usually brief and simple in themselves, such as today’s short service. What amazed me was the timing of the first chime of Big Ben which coincided to the second with the guns sounding 11 o’clock, the start of the two minutes’ silence, presumably in Hyde Park. As Big Ben struck the hour, so the guns were fired. Not a second before, nor a second after, but completely together, totally synchronicity.
      I’m actually delighted with that photo, was purely accidental. I watched the programme fairly carefully, but I didn’t see The Duchess of Cornwall anywhere, she was not at the balcony with Princess Alexandra, The Duchess of Cambridge or Sophie, Duchess of Wessex.

  6. Greetings Margaret. This is a very moving tribute you have written for this special day. It’s nice to read about tradition and remembrance of those who gave their all. And, I so enjoyed seeing the photos of the Royal Family. I hope you had a wonderful day and I look forward to chatting with you again. My best to you. Pat

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Pat. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the photos I took from the television, for my Remembrance Day tribute.

  7. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    A very moving tribute, I find it very emotional, all the wonderful people who sacrificed their lives to secure and protect our futures. “We shall not forget” ever.

  8. Canada has the ceremonies on November 11. Doesn’t matter which day of the week it falls on. It is a national holiday.

    My husband served for 44 years and still parades with his Legion branch. Our oldest son parades with his regiment in a nearby farming community. Our youngest always goes with his Dad when he’s not working (he works in a hospital, so if you are due to work, you work)

    I remember the first year I attended my husband’s ceremony. -15C blowing a blizzard and pregnant. Didn’t get to sit because I was “other ranks” spouse. Only officers wives got seating.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, WonderCollie, what a wonderful pen name! That is a great idea, making 11th November a national holiday. There is a move here to get all the large stores to close as a mark of respect and hopefully, having trodden the high moral ground, smaller businesses will follow suit. You are a military family and therefore know only too well the importance of this annual commemoration. But what a memory, of attending the ceremony all those years ago when it was -15C and blowing a gale and even being able to have a seat even though you were pregnant. Thank you so much for leaving your comments, and I hope you will look in again.

  9. I don’t want to say ‘what a lovely post’ as it is such a sombre ceremony but I think you have written a beautiful description of an important event. As I commented in an earlier post, ANZAC Day (25th of April) is the major day here in Australia (and New Zealand). We traditionally have a Dawn Service and also a later service and march. Sydney (population 4,000,000) is our largest city and has a large Cenotaph in the CBD (Martin Place) which is where the largest Dawn Service is held. Various dignitaries attend, along with representatives from the various armed forces, young cadets, and so on who each lay a wreath. The crowd is in the thousands and spans for several city blocks. I went several years and it is a sombre event but I was always encouraged by seeing so many young people in the crowd. Now that I live in a regional area and my (91 yo) father-in-law is a veteran from WWII, I attend the local Dawn Service with him and my husband. He wears his medals and we take a chair as he can’t stand still for long. The service is attended by our local member of parliament, local Councillors, local senior police officers, a Salvation Army chaplain, students from the local hig school, etc who each lay a wreath. Even though our town has only several thousand residents, I am astounded by the crowd that gathers, including many young children. A march down the Main Street occurs at about 11am, led by the WWII vets (who are able) and attended by the local scouts troop.

    My late grandparents came to Australia in 1949 as stateless refugees after WWII, with one suitcase between them. My grandmother told me many stories about her life before, during and after the war so I’m well aware of the horrific impacts it had on her life and so many like her. Lest we forget, indeed.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for telling me, and others who read this blog, Lara, about your ANZAC Day commemoration. I have been interested to read this as I know of ANZAC Day but you commemorate it in your own way and it sounds to be a very moving service. And how wonderful that so many young people are there, learning how others fought and died for them so they would have a free country. How wonderful that Australia gave not only a home but also hope to your grandparents, Lara. To arrive in a country, stateless, and with just a suitcase of belongings is a heart-wrenching story, but also heart-warming as they obviously survived, had children, and you are now here how they overcame such adversity.

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