THE country fell silent to remember its war dead at services across the country yesterday.
At the Cenotaph in London, the Queen laid the first wreath to commemorate members of the armed forces who had fallen in all conflicts since the First World War.
In brilliant autumn sunshine, senior members of the monarchy joined Prime Minister David Cameron, military chiefs, servicemen and women and thousands of watching spectators in paying their respects.
When the first stroke of 11 sounded from Big Ben, Whitehall observed a two-minute silence punctuated only by the hum of distant London traffic and birds.
British forces across the world – including 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan – also stood silent to remember.
The Queen was first to lay a wreath, followed by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of Cambridge. Then the Duke of Cambridge, wearing his RAF uniform, laid a wreath, under the gaze of his wife, who watched from a balcony at the Foreign Office alongside the Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal’s husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
Veterans’ representatives laid wreaths at the Cenotaph before 10,000 ex-servicemen and women marched past to commemorate their fallen comrades.
In Scotland, politicians and dignitaries joined military leaders, veterans and serving personnel at the Stone of Remembrance at the City Chambers in Edinburgh.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall had earlier attended a ceremony in Auckland as part of their jubilee tour of New Zealand. Under grey skies they sat with New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, veterans from across the decades and members of the public around the Auckland cenotaph.
The Duke of Kent was also overseas, representing the Queen at a service in the Falkland Islands.
Thousands of people also respected the two-minute silence on Twitter, abstaining from posting messages9. The idea was spread using the hashtag #2minutesilence.
The crowds watching the service in central London could be the largest yet, the Royal British Legion said. Its head of remembrance, Helen Hill, said numbers were swollen as recent conflicts brought the realities of war home to a new generation and created “people who are aged 18½ who are veterans of recent conflicts”.
“Once again the British public has shown its support,” she said, adding that the number of veterans marching had increased by 3,000 in the past five years.
“There are an increasing number of associations looking after the veteran community. More and more people want to participate in the activities.”
British troops in Afghanistan marked Remembrance Sunday with a simple ceremony at their headquarters in Lashkar Gah.
About 150 personnel from the army, navy and RAF marked the two-minute silence at 11am local time and a bugler sounded The Last Post before a piper from The Royal Dragoon Guards played the lament Flowers of the Forest.
They were joined by coalition representatives from the United States, Denmark, Estonia and Bosnia, as well as senior officers from the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF.)
In a historic first, the prime minister of the Irish Republic laid a wreath at a remembrance service in Northern Ireland.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended commemorations in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, as the town marked 25 years since the IRA Poppy Day bomb, which claimed 12 lives.