Without the Queen, thousands roared anthem on day of remembrance

In absence of Her Majesty, our sprightly war heroes led the way: Without the familiar sight of the Queen on the royal balcony, tens of thousands roared out her anthem on our day of remembrance, writes ROBERT HARDMAN

  • Her Majesty the Queen missed the Remembrance service at the Cenotaph
  • Yet Remembrance Sunday is all about the fallen, writes Robert Hardman
  • The Queen will be determined to resume her place this time next year
  • Did I detect just a little extra oomph to the singing of the National Anthem? It certainly felt like it from where I was standing on Whitehall yesterday, especially when we got to the line: ‘Long to reign over us’.

    No one in history has attended the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph more times than 皇后. She laid her first wreath there 76 years ago as a princess. 所以, the fact that we had been told for many days that it was her ‘firm intentionto be present, and were then told, with less than two hours to go, that she would not be coming, was a real worry.

    The Queen would be the first to point out that Remembrance Sunday is all about the fallen, not the living.

    图为: the annual Remembrance Sunday service was held at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦, 今天早上

    图为: the annual Remembrance Sunday service was held at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦, 今天早上

    图为: a large crowd has gathered ahead of the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦

    图为: a large crowd has gathered ahead of the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦

    The Duchess of Cambridge was pictured in attendance at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in London this morning

    The Duchess of Cambridge was pictured in attendance at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in London this morning

    Prince Charles lead the royal family at this year's Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, central London and laid a wreath on behalf of his mother the Queen after she was forced to miss the event due to a back injury

    Prince Charles lead the royal family at this year’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, central London and laid a wreath on behalf of his mother the Queen after she was forced to miss the event due to a back injury

    查尔斯王子, Prince of Wales and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph

    查尔斯王子, Prince of Wales and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph

    然而, it is also a day when the entire Forces family feels immense pride in seeing its Commander-in-Chief leading the national commemorations.

    In the short statement from Buckingham Palace at 9.18am yesterday, we were told that the Queen was ‘disappointednot to attend but, with ‘great regret’, had taken the decision ‘having sprained her back’.

    Many among the tens of thousands of onlookers had not heard the news.

    Shortly before 11am, I watched the mobile phones pop up above the crowd like meerkats, ready to capture the royal appearance on the central Foreign Office balcony. 在哪一点, they saw just the Duke of Kent, 86, and Princess Alexandra, 84. Blank looks all round.

    爱德华王子, Duke of Kent and Britain's Princess Alexandra took the Queen's place on the central balcony in Whitehall

    爱德华王子, Duke of Kent and Britain’s Princess Alexandra took the Queen’s place on the central balcony in Whitehall

    The Queen would normally have appeared on the central balcony where the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra stood today. 王室成员 (左到右) Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, 肯特公爵, 亚历山德拉公主, 康沃尔公爵夫人, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex on the balconies

    The Queen would normally have appeared on the central balcony where the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra stood today. 王室成员 (左到右) Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, 肯特公爵, 亚历山德拉公主, 康沃尔公爵夫人, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex on the balconies

    图为: Prince Charles laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen at the Remembrance Sunday event as she was unable to attend

    图为: Prince Charles laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen at the Remembrance Sunday event as she was unable to attend

    图为: 威廉王子, Duke of Cambridge lays a wreath as he attends the annual service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph

    图为: 威廉王子, Duke of Cambridge lays a wreath as he attends the annual service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph

    图为: Labour leader Keir Starmer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron attend the annual National Service of Remembrance in Whitehall, central London this morning

    图为: Labour leader Keir Starmer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron attend the annual National Service of Remembrance in Whitehall, central London this morning

    On the adjacent balcony to the north stood the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex. On the south side stood Princess Anne’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Down below, the Prince of Wales led the rest of the senior family out on parade (minus the two absentee dukes, Sussex and York).

    But there was no sign of the Head of the Armed Forces. The Queen has missed this event six times during her reign. On four occasions, she was on a royal tour and attended a service of remembrance overseas (most recently in Durban in 1999).

    The other two absences, 在 1959 和 1963, were because she was expecting Princes Andrew and Edward.

    卡米拉, 康沃尔公爵夫人, 剩下, 凯特, Duchess of Cambridge and Sophie, 威塞克斯伯爵夫人, 对, stand on the balcony of the Foreign Office during the Remembrance service where the Queen would have been standing if she had attended

    卡米拉, 康沃尔公爵夫人, 剩下, 凯特, Duchess of Cambridge and Sophie, 威塞克斯伯爵夫人, 对, stand on the balcony of the Foreign Office during the Remembrance service where the Queen would have been standing if she had attended

    然而, on both those occasions, she still attended a service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park.

    Yesterday was the first time she had not left home. 然而, an aide was adamant she had been glued to the BBC’s coverage, as she had been the previous evening during the magnificent Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

    到底, both her doctors and her back were telling her that a 50-mile round-trip by car plus half an hour of standing up were not advisable. 再来一次, it was a reminder to the nation that our head of state is well into her tenth decade. Sensible precautions will continue to be required.

    Over at the Palace, staff pointed out that the Queen will be resuming ‘light duties’ 本星期, including video audiences with new ambassadors. Her red boxes, full of state papers and briefing notes, continue to come and go. Plans for her Christmas broadcast remain unaltered (staff are finalising the location this week).

    当然, the news that the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were last night on their way to the Middle East, as planned, to celebrate the centenary of Jordan, was reassuring.

    然而, it meant that the wartime generation was yesterday led not by the monarch but by a handful of sprightly gents who, just like everyone else, were thrilled to see Whitehall full again after a two-year absence.

    They included the oldest veteran present, Tim Farmiloe, 98, formerly of Coastal Command and a proud member of the Goldfish Club for those who have escaped an aircraft by parachuting into water.

    这里, 太, was former Royal Navy signalman, Frank Baugh, 97, from Doncaster. ‘I’ve never known a parade quite like this. The reception has been just unbelievable,’ said Mr Baugh, whose landing craft was one of the first ashore on Sword Beach, Normandy, at the crack of dawn on D-Day, loaded with 200 men of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

    图为: Members of the public attend the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦

    图为: Members of the public attend the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦

    Wreaths of poppies were laid at the foot of the Cenotaph in London today as the country marked Remembrance Sunday

    Wreaths of poppies were laid at the foot of the Cenotaph in London today as the country marked Remembrance Sunday

    Buckingham Palace said the Queen was forced to miss the Remembrance service due to a back injury. Pictured last year

    Buckingham Palace said the Queen was forced to miss the Remembrance service due to a back injury. Pictured last year

    They took two direct hits and were then marooned on the beach for four hours while they patched up the holes with welding gear under enemy fire. Mr Baugh, who went on to make more return trips than he can count in the summer of 1944, witnessed some horrific injuries on that first one.

    ‘These poor lads were crying out ‘Give us something, 插口’ – the soldiers called us all ‘Jack– and luckily we had these ampoules of morphine. You don’t know how white a man’s bones are until you see them for yourself,’ 他记得. It’s why he was utterly determined to be there yesterday.

    This was a big anniversary year for several organisations on parade, not least the War Widows’ 协会, which is marking its half-century. ‘It’s very hard to describe just what an incredible honour it is to be there at your central national memorial with 10,000 退伍军人,’ said the chair, Mary Moreland, 64, whose husband, Ulster Defence Regiment reservist Private John Moreland, was murdered by the IRA on his coal round nine days before Christmas in 1988.

    Her two children were at school meeting Father Christmas before she could break the news – ‘probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life’.

    A tireless champion of widows’ 权利, she is currently battling the ludicrous rule which means hundreds of war widows who have gone on to marry again can only retain their war widow’s pension if they divorce their current spouse.

    Among the units marching for the first time yesterday were Fighting With Pride, the first organisation for LGBT+ veterans, and the Casevac Club.

    爱德华王子, Earl of Wessex lays a wreath at The Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony

    安妮公主, Princess Royal lays a wreath at The Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony

    图为: Prince Edward and Princess Anne lay wreaths at the Cenotaph as part of the Remembrance Sunday ceremony

    图为: Crowds gather ahead of the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦, 今天早上

    图为: Crowds gather ahead of the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, 伦敦, 今天早上

    Former Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street, ahead of the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall

    Former Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street, ahead of the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall

    Former Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May have been pictured at the Remembrance event this morning

    Former prime minister Tony Blair (中央) and Nadhim Zahawi (对) pictured ahead of the Remembrance Sunday event

    Former prime minister Tony Blair (中央) and Nadhim Zahawi (对) pictured ahead of the Remembrance Sunday event

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer stood beside the Prime Minister while former prime ministers lined up behind Mr Johnson, with John Major, 托尼·布莱尔, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May all paying their respects

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer stood beside the Prime Minister while former prime ministers lined up behind Mr Johnson, with John Major, 托尼·布莱尔, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May all paying their respects

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer stood side-by-side as they waited to lay their wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, 伦敦, 在星期天

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer stood side-by-side as they waited to lay their wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, 伦敦, 在星期天

    The latter was founded in 2017 for those so badly wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan that they required ‘casualty evacuation’.

    Appropriately, the Legion had put them in the parade immediately in front of the MERT Club, former members of the medical emergency response teams whose job was to fly into the thick of the action and extract the seriously wounded.

    Having spent 26 years in the RAF, former Flight Lieutenant Nigel Thorpe, 49, was thrilled to be offered an invitation to yesterday’s parade and ‘grabbed it with both hands’. During four tours of duty flying his Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, his toughest MERT mission was his last when the call came to rescue several badly wounded US Rangers. ‘We were on the ground for four minutes but it felt like four hours when they started firing grenades at us,’ 他记得.

    It wasn’t just the absence of the monarch which underlined the sense of the passage of time.

    One of the most moving sights was that of 45 children in the yellow and black scarves of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved Forces children.

    The youngest on parade were two eight-year-olds – Evie Hebden, marching in memory of father Marine Ralph Hebden, 谁死于 2013, and Jacob Stokoe, whose father, Sapper Alan Stokoe, 死在 2019. A veteran from another group was so touched by the sight of this impressive little gang that he handed his blue beret to Jacob, who proudly wore it for the rest of the day.

    The charity was set up by another determined war widow, Nikki Scott, 40, after her husband, Corporal Lee Scott of the Royal Tank Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 老化的 26. Yellow and black were his regimental colours.

    Scotty’s Little Soldiers now helps almost 500 孩子们, including Mrs Scott’s two. Brooke Scott, 12, 只是 11 months old when she lost her father. She was on parade with her mother yesterday, carrying the charity’s wreath, while son Kai, 17, preferred to honour his father near their home in Wisbech, 剑桥郡.

    ‘I set up the charity because I just wanted to help people smile again,’ Mrs Scott explained. ‘Today makes all the difference for them to have people around them who have been through the same thing. It opens up conversations.

    Once they had all finished marching, they were off for an afternoon treat, a special tour of the Tower of London, along with their patron, Richard Jones, the soldier-magician who won Britain’s Got Talent (and is still a proud Lance Corporal of Horse in the Household Cavalry).

    Here were 45 fresh-faced reminders of why this remembrance business is as important as ever. That is why the Queen will be determined to resume her place this time next year.

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