Guardian News and Media/London
The Prince of Wales has led the nation in honouring Britain’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday, as the Queen observed the service from a balcony.
The Queen asked Charles to lay her wreath at the Cenotaph; it is the first time the monarch has broken with tradition and not performed the symbolic duty when at the Whitehall service.
A two-minute silence was held at 11am and wreaths were laid at the foot of the Whitehall memorial by senior royals and political leaders including the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
The Cenotaph ceremony is a poignant 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’s role in laying the wreath was a significant moment.
Buckingham Palace announced the change last month, which is seen as part of the subtle shift of head of state duties from the Queen to the heir to the throne.
Earlier this year, Philip, 96, retired from his solo public duties, but on occasion has joined the Queen at her official engagements.
Philip’s equerry laid his wreath, while Charles also laid his own wreath. The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent also laid wreaths.
Other political figures laying wreaths included the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, and the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow.
Joining the Queen in observing the service from Foreign Office balconies were the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex, Princess Alexandra, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
The firing of a gun marked the end of the silence, and the Last Post was sounded by the Buglers of the Royal Marines before the wreaths were laid.
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.
This year marks the centenaries of women’s service in the regular armed forces, the Battle of Passchendaele and the creation of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as the 100th birthday of forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn.
It also marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein and the creation of the RAF Regiment.
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