LONDON — Thousands in central London paused for a moment’s reflection today to remember all those who have fallen in combat, as Queen Elizabeth II led Britain’s annual Remembrance Day service.
As Big Ben struck 11 a.m., veterans, servicemen and politicians bowed their heads for a two-minute silence. “The Last Post,” the traditional trumpet call commemorating the war dead, was played, and the queen laid the first wreath at the foot of central London’s Cenotaph war memorial.
She was joined by her husband, Prince Philip, and her grandsons, Princes William and Harry, who also laid wreaths of red poppies at the monument. William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, watched from a nearby balcony.
The solemn ceremony takes place every year on the 11th hour on the nearest today to the anniversary of the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. The day now also pays tribute to the dead in all conflicts, including World War II, Iraq and Afghanistan. Smaller services also took place across Britain and in Commonwealth countries.
The War Widows Association, wearing black coats and red scarves, headed a march down Whitehall to mark the loss of those departed. They were followed by scores of veterans — some in wheelchairs — as well-wishers lining the streets cheered.
Politicians including former Prime Ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown also attended the ceremony.