Prince Charles has laid the Queen’s wreath at a Remembrance Sunday service today, as he led the service in what is a break in Royal tradition.
It is thought to be the first time the monarch has not performed the symbolic duty when present at the Whitehall Cenotaph service, and is being seen as an example of the subtle shift of head of state duties from the Queen to the heir to the throne.
A two-minute silence took place at 11am and wreaths were laid at the foot of the Whitehall memorial, as the nation paid respect to the country’s war dead.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh observed the service from a balcony, while senior members of the royal family and political leaders laid wreaths.
The Cenotaph ceremony is a poignant and significant event in the life of the nation which normally involves the Queen leading the country in remembering those who have died in world wars and other conflicts, so Charles’ role in laying the wreath was a significant moment.
Charles has laid a wreath before on behalf of the Queen, in 1983 when she was out of the country, and when the Queen was in South Africa in 1999 she laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Durban.
After the ceremony today, thousands of veterans from the Second World War, and more recent conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, marched past the Cenotaph.
The prime minister said: “This time of year should remind us that our way of life is only made possible by the bravery of the men and women who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.
“We should also take great pride in the way we come together as a nation to honour the fallen.
“Today I pay tribute not just to our armed forces but also to those who stand alongside them in this small act of remembrance each and every year.”
On Saturday night, the Queen and senior royals joined servicemen and women past and present at the annual Festival of Remembrance as the nation remembered its war dead on Armistice Day.
The monarch was joined at the Royal Albert Hall in London by thousands of veterans for the 90th anniversary of the event, organised by the Royal British Legion, of which she is patron.