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The Queen today led the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in central London, the first ever in which no First World War veteran has been present. Britain's last two WWI veterans - Henry Allingham and Harry Patch - died earlier this year.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who has suffered from ill health recently, viewed the proceedings from a ground-floor window at the Foreign Office. It is believed to be the first time she has been in the country and NOT taken part in the ceremony.

Some of the other Royals present included the Duke of Edinburgh, Princes William and Harry, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

Each Royal present layed a wreath of poppies at the Cenotaph. Prince Harry presented one on behalf of his father Prince Charles, who is currently in Canada. It was the first time he has layed a wreath at the ceremony.

They were followed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Leader of the Opposition David Cameron, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, high commissioners from Commonwealth countries and defence chiefs.

Approximately 7,500 ex-Servicemen and women and 1,600 civilians then took part in a march past the Cenotaph. It has been calculated that if all the British and Commonwealth soldiers who have died in combat since World War I were to march past the Cenotaph the line would stretch from London to Edinburgh (over 330 miles).

Before the wreath laying, a crowd ten deep observed the two minutes silence impeccably after Big Ben chimed 11am.

Today's ceremony took place on the day when it was announced that another British soldier has been killed in Afghanistan, taking the country's death toll there to 231, and also taking the death toll to those killed in combat to the 200 mark. 2009 is the bloodiest year for British forces since 1982.


Queen leads Remembrance Day ceremony as Britain stops to remember the 200 soldiers killed in Afghanistan

By Daily Mail Reporter
08th November 2009
Daily Mail

The Queen today led the nation is paying respect to Britain's war dead in the Remembrance Sunday ceremony.

The Monarch, warmly clad in a black coat against the autumn chill, placed the first wreath in the annual event at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Skies were threatening but the rain held off as the Queen was followed in placing wreaths by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry, on behalf of the Prince of Wales who is on an official visit to Canada, and Prince William.

It is the first time that Prince Harry, who served in Afghanistan, has placed a wreath on Remembrance Sunday.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who has suffered from ill health recently, viewed the proceedings from a ground-floor window at the Foreign Office. It is believed to be the first time she has been in the country and not taken part in the ceremony.

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The Queen leans forward to lay her wreath at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Day service

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Flanked by her grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry, with her daughter Princess Anne in the background, the Queen stands before the Cenotaph

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From left, Leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman, Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg, former PM Tony Blair, Tory leader David Cameron, former PM John Major and current Prime Minister Gordon Brown salute the fallen

More wreaths were also placed by the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

They were followed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, foreign secretary David Miliband, high commissioners from Commonwealth countries and defence chiefs.

A record 42 million poppies have been sold in Britain this year, raising more than 30 million. This money will give financial, social and emotional support to ex-military personnel and to those currently serving. The Royal British Legion desbribes it as a huge increase in public support of the British Armed Forces.

Approximately 7,500 ex-Servicemen and women and 1,600 civilians then took part in a march past the Cenotaph. It is the first Remembrance Sunday not attended by any veterans of World War I.

The crowd 10 deep on the pavement observed the two minutes silence in perfect quiet at 11am after Big Ben had chimed and before the wreath-laying event..

The silence was broken by a single artillery blast and the sound of the Royal Marine buglers playing the 'Last Post'.


Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher watches the commemorations from a ground-floor window at the Foreign Office

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Soldiers attending the service drive past in their mobility scooters

Their minds of those attending were no doubt on the recent losses in Afghanistan, which were referred to frequently last night at the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Another death announced today has taken the British toll in Afghanistan to 231 since operations began there in 2001.

Stuart Gendall, director of corporate communications for The Royal British Legion, said: "It's gone very, very well. It's been a very touching ceremony, it's made all the more poignant that foremost in people's minds are the tragic deaths in Afghanistan.

"I think there are more people here today than other years, and there's a definite emotion in the air, you can really feel it.

"People are marching past remembering their fallen comrades from the Second World War, and people are falling even now in a foreign country, young men of the same age."

Each year, thousands of poppies are placed in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey to remember all those killed by the war.

The service comes a few days before Armistice Day, held on Nov. 11 - the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Wild red corn poppies grew in the churned-up soil of Flanders Fields in Belgium, one of the key battlegrounds of World War I.

At this time of year, thousands of Britons wear small red poppies made out of paper and sold by the Royal British Legion.

Remembrance Sunday now pays tribute to the dead in all conflicts, including World War II, the British personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 and those who have died in Iraq since 2003.

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Chelsea Pensioners march towards the Cenotaph in Whitehall for this morning's service


Soldiers of the Royal Gurkha Rifles preparie to march for Remembrance Ceremony

Former members of the services took a hard-hitting view of the conflict in Afghanistan today after the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph.

"We should get it over and done with - send more troops, yes, and stop pussy-footing around," said Rab Bailey, 47, formerly of the Royal Corps of Transport and the Queen's Own Highlanders, who was in Kuwait during the first Gulf War.

"I think they're being restricted, the guys are not being allowed to go in and do it, rather like in the first Gulf War," said Mr Bailey, originally from Edinburgh, and now living in Colchester, Essex.

"The war is not just winnable, we've won it," declared Bob Williams, 56, formerly of the Royal Greenjackets, who did seven tours to Northern Ireland.

"What you read in the media, and what's happening out there, are totally different stories. We are killing them tenfold to what they're killing us.

"You also have to look at the bigger picture. If the Taliban get Pakistan, they get access to nuclear weapons. Appeasement, history shows, never works. We must stay on until the job is done."

Phillip Betts, 48, of Victoria, London, who left the services two months ago after 30 years' service as an avionics engineer with the RAF, said: "It's not a question of whether we should or should not be there, we are there. If we left, that would be a waste of the lives of all the guys whose lives have been lost there.

"The services will keep doing their job - it's up to the politicians to start doing theirs better.

"If I'm building a house and my builder said he needs more cement, then he's the expert and I take his view on it."

Mr Betts served in Kuwait and Iraq.

Brian Jones, 70, of Holyhead, North Wales, who did National Service with the Royal Welch Fusiliers from 1960 to 1962, said: "If we withdraw now, the Taliban are a ruthless mob, and if they get the whip hand it would be tyranny there. And if they get into Pakistan and get nuclear weapons, they won't care what they do with them.

It's going to be a long haul, but we can do it."

However Richard Clare, 65, a painter and decorator from Gillingham, Dorset, who took part in the march past in memory of his uncle Thomas, who was killed in the Second World War, took a different view.

He said: "I think there should be a phased withdrawal because it is a lost cause.

"There's too much corruption in the Afghan government and we don't understand their culture.

"But if we are going to stay, we should send more troops, so that we can keep land when we win it."

His wife, Gillian, 66, said: "I am collecting items for boxes to be sent to the troops at Christmas and I hear they're even short of batteries for their night vision equipment. That's terrible - why doesn't some big battery company just send shiploads of them out there?"

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Last edited by Blackleaf; Nov 8th, 2009 at 12:17 PM..