Queen leads tribute to the nation's war dead on Remembrance Day

Three million poppy petals were dropped from two Second World War aircraft on to the Thames in London yesterday to mark the loss of lives in war.

As much of Britain fell silent at 11am, in Iraq, the names of the latest fatalities were read out in a Remembrance Day ceremony in Camp Dogwood.

Formal Armistice Day ceremonies will be held in Iraq on Sunday, but there were plans for all British troops stationed there to observe a silence at 11am, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

The London skyline was tinged pink as red lights on bridges in central London, and the London Eye, marked the beginning of a weekend of Armistice events.

The petals were dropped from twoDouglas Dakota DC3 aircraft during a two-minute fly-by, the first of its kind to be held in the capital.

Supplied by the Royal British Legion, the petals symbolised the lives lost in the First and Second World Wars and conflicts since, including Iraq.

It ended a day of ceremonies across the country. In London, two trumpeters sounded two minutes' silence from the parapet of St Margaret's Church at Westminster at 11am.

The day's purpose was given added poignancy this year, as it coincided with the opening of the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

Around 20,000 wooden crosses bearing red poppies and the names of the dead were planted by friends and relatives in the grounds of the Abbey.

The names of the five Black Watch soldiers who have died since their regiment was sent to Iraq were planted by the regiment's secretary, Joe Hubble.

The Queen, who together with the Duke of Edinburgh laid a cross at the Field of Remembrance, paused to speak to Mr Hubble and Brigadier Donald Wilson.

In Belgium, poppies filled the bright blue sky at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, where thousands of British soldiers marched to their deaths in the First World War, as a piper from the King's Own Scottish Borderers played a lament.

Back in Britain, an investigation is under way into complaints by two teenagers who were selling poppies outside a McDonald's restaurant in Greater Manchester. The two Royal British Legion cadets, who were with an adult corporal, claim they were told to move on by a McDonald's employee who said they were "taking trade" from the restaurant in Ashton-Under-Lyne. A McDonald's spokesman said they were "concerned" at the event and were carrying out an investigation.

The Queen will end Remembrance Day commemorations when she lays a wreath at the Cenotaph memorial in London this Sunday.