King Charles to lead Remembrance Sunday service at Cenotaph after day of protests

Charles leads country in commemorating end of First World War and other conflicts involving British and Commonwealth forces

Tara Cobham
Sunday 12 November 2023 05:36 GMT
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King Charles unveils new statues of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

The King will be leading a moving Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph as the nation honours those who died in conflict on Sunday.

People across the UK will hold a two-minute silence at 11am, as Charles leads the country at the central London memorial in commemorating the end of the First World War and other conflicts involving British and Commonwealth forces.

Wreaths will be laid by members of the royal family, senior politicians and dignitaries at the Whitehall memorial, where a major policing operation remains in place after 126 arrests - mostly far-right counter-protesters - as a pro-Palestinian march was held on Armistice Day.

Almost 10,000 veterans and 800 Armed Forces personnel from all three services will take part in a march-past, joined by thousands of members of the public who will line Whitehall to watch the service.

Among those marching will be nuclear test veterans, who for the first time will wear a medal acknowledging their contribution. After 70 years of waiting for recognition, those exposed to the effects of nuclear bombs during the UK’s testing programme were given a medal - depicting an atom surrounded by olive branches - for the Remembrance Sunday service.

More than 300 different Armed Forces and civilian organisations will be represented, as well as some 300 veterans not affiliated with an association who have been invited to join for the first time.

People of all ages will be marching, from 100-year-old Second World War veterans to bereaved children, with the youngest aged eight.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla attend “The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance” ceremony at Royal Albert Hall, in London, on Saturday night

They will also mark 70 years since the end of fighting in the Korean War and 20 years since the start of the UK’s military operations in Iraq.

It comes after the King and Queen unveiled statues of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh as they arrived for the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday.

The statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II unveiled by King Charles at the Royal Albert Hall on 11 November 2023

Charles appeared emotional as he looked up at the life-sized bronze artworks, commemorating the former Queen and her husband’s dedication to the concert hall, which were installed as part of its 150th anniversary.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “The courage and commitment shown by our servicemen and women, both today and throughout the generations that came before them, is humbling and I know many across the country will be honouring their memory today in quiet reflection.

“Recent events have served as a stark reminder that we cannot take the hard-earned peace we live in for granted, which is why I am honoured to lay a wreath on behalf of the nation in the memory of all those that have lost their lives defending our country and the values we hold so close.

An emotional King Charles reacts after unveiling statues of his mother and father

“I am determined to ensure we never forget the ultimate sacrifice they have made.”

The Metropolitan Police is under pressure to prevent further disruption as Mr Sunak told Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley he expects the far-right “thugs” who clashed with police and “Hamas sympathisers” on Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march to face the “full and swift force of the law”.

The march was calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, where the death toll has been mounting since Hamas’s bloody 7 October attack on Israel triggered an ongoing war.

The number of officers on duty in London is double the usual amount, with 1,375 officers on Sunday, and the Cenotaph has a dedicated 24-hour police presence until the conclusion of Remembrance events.

Nine officers were injured as they prevented a violent crowd of mainly football hooligans from reaching the war memorial while a Remembrance service was taking place on Saturday.

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