The Queen leads the nation commemorating the sacrifice of Britain's war dead - and Angelina Jolie shows her support, too

11th November 2007
Daily Mail

The Queen led the nation in commemorating the sacrifice made by Britain's war dead at today's Remembrance Sunday ceremony.

The monarch is joined by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, opposition party leaders and High Commissioners from Commonwealth countries at the wreath-laying event in central London.

Angelina Jolie wears a poppy for the war dead, as is common in Britain and some Commonwealth countries in the days leading up to Remembrance Sunday, as she leaves a restaurant with partner Brad Pitt

Thousands of veterans have also gathered to pay their respects to Britain's war dead at the ceremony staged at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall.

Among the senior royals placing floral tributes at the monument was Prince William - an officer in the Blues and Royals - who is taking part in the ceremony for the first time.

American movie star Angelina Jolie last night marked Remembrance Day by wearing a poppy pinned to her coat.

She was spotted with partner Brad Pitt leaving a night-spot displaying the bright red poppy in memory of thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Chris Simpkins, the Royal British Legion's director general, said: "As custodians of remembrance, the Royal British Legion recognises Remembrance Sunday as one of the most important days in the nation's calendar and calls on the nation to observe the two-minute silence either at the cenotaph or at a local parade in their area.

"We use this time to remember those who have made sacrifices and continue to do so, in order to bring about and maintain our freedom."

After the Last Post was played and a two-minute silence observed, the Queen laid the first wreath on behalf of the nation.

She was followed by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Prince William, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

Prince William lays a wreath of poppies during the Remembrance Sunday service

Watching the service from a balcony at the Foreign Office are the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra and Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence.

Prince Harry, a cornet in the Blues and Royals, is not be present. A Clarence House spokeswoman said he would be attending a private remembrance service with his regiment.

Wreaths were also left by the Prime Minister, Tory leader David Cameron, acting Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and more than 40 High Commissioners from Commonwealth countries.

Politicians past and present also gather to pay their respects, including former prime ministers Baroness Thatcher, Sir John Major and Tony Blair and senior cabinet ministers including Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

The Queen laying a wreath at the Cenotaph

Not only the First and Second World Wars are remembered but also present conflicts Britain is fighting in the Middle East.

The UK has suffered 83 military fatalities in Afghanistan and 169 in Iraq since hostilities began in the two countries.

Around 8,000 ex-servicemen and women take part in the Remembrance Sunday parade each year.
Veterans, many elderly and frail, assembled on Horse Guards Parade and march to the Cenotaph to stand on the north side of the square.

The west side will be formed by detachments of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force, among others.

Prince William and Prince Philip (right) salute the old soldiers

The east side is formed by detachments including the Household Cavalry, The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the Royal Gurkha Rifles, the police, fire, ambulance and the British Red Cross Society.

The south side is formed by the military bands including the massed bands of the Guards Division.

A shower of blood-red poppy petals cascaded into London's Royal Albert Hall last night, during a ceremony of remembrance attended by the Queen and Mr Brown.

Veterans at the Cenotaph

Hundreds of ex-servicemen and women packed the hall for The Royal Festival of Remembrance.

The auditorium fell into silence as thousands of petals fell from the dome, representing those who had died in combat.

A host of celebrities also took part in the event, with Life on Mars and Dr Who actor John Simm and Bill Roache aka Coronation Street's Ken Barlow giving readings.

Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup underlined the importance of publicly honouring those who make the "ultimate sacrifice" - especially with the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's very important that we have a day like today," he told the BBC.

The scene at the Cenotaph today

"Today is an excellent opportunity to give some tangible expression to the pride that the nation feels in its armed forces and the sadness and gratitude it feels for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and the families who have borne the terrible loss.

"And also to show appreciation of the burden still borne by sailors, soldiers and airmen and their families around the world."

He agreed current deployment levels cannot be sustained indefinitely, but said pressure was easing as troops were scaled down in Iraq and withdrawn from Bosnia.