King Charles III led the nation in paying tribute to the fallen for the first time as sovereign. The monarch, who in the past few years had laid a wreath on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, today stood proudly by the Cenotaph in central London and, as Big Ben chimed 11am, saluted those who lost their lives in conflict to protect the country and the Commonwealth.
The two-minute silence was held at the same time the armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany in 1918, a move which brought World War I to an end.
On an emotional day, King Charles looked sombre in the No 1 Field Marshal uniform and grey coat. After the end of the silent tribute, he walked nearer the steps of the monument to lay his first poppy wreath as sovereign.
King Charles’s wreath paid tribute to his great-grandfather King George V, grandfather King George VI, and his mother Queen Elizabeth II by incorporating the royal racing colours – scarlet, purple and gold – into the floral arrangement.
His poppies were mounted on an arrangement of black leaves, as is traditional for the sovereign, and included a coloured ribbon.
He was followed by his uncle Prince Edward and aunt Princess Anne, who also laid their wreaths.
Other senior members of the Royal Family stood on the balconies of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building – including Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
They joined the thousands of veterans and military family who headed to Whitehall for this day of remembrance.
The laying of the royal wreaths was quickly followed by those of politicians, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leading the way before being followed by the leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer.
In a statement released ahead of the service, Mr Sunak said: “This year more than ever, we are reminded of the huge debt of gratitude we owe those who lay down their lives to protect their country.
“As we fall silent together on Remembrance Sunday, we will honour the memories of the men and women we have lost and pay tribute to the brave soldiers of Ukraine as they continue their fight for freedom.”
This year’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony had added poignancy as it took place on the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War, with former veterans who fought in this conflict marching past the Cenotaph.
Among them was retired Brigadier Jon Mullin, who served as a Lieutenant in the 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers during the war against Argentina.
Reflecting on the sacrifices made during that war, he said: “I wanted to be part of a national commemoration to commemorate all those people who did this wonderful feat of arms and put it all together, and many have passed on in the intervening years.
“I think it’s important that the nation doesn’t forget the sacrifices.”
The King first laid a wreath on behalf of his mother on Remembrance Sunday in 2017 when, aged 91, she watched on from one of the nearby balconies in the company of her husband Prince Philip, a World War 2 veteran.
The late sovereign only missed the National Service of Remembrance seven times during her record-breaking reign.
In 2021, her absence was due to mobility issues. In past years, she was absent due to pregnancies or foreign trips.