Nations unite to remember First World War

Details of a national day of commemoration to mark the centenary of Britain’s entry into the First World War have been released by the government.

The events are part of a commemoration spanning the four-year centenary. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

A series of events are being held to mark 100 years since Britain declared war on 4 August 1914, attended by members of the Royal Family and senior politicians from Britain, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Commonwealth.

The events are part of a commemoration spanning the four-year centenary of the Great War, with key events due to take place in Glasgow, London and Belgium.

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On Monday 4 August, there will be events at Glasgow Cathedral, St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium, and at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Setting out details of services of remembrance in Glasgow and London and a commemorative event in Belgium, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “A hundred years on, the sheer scale and sacrifice of the First World War demand remembrance.”

On the same day, a service for the Commonwealth will be held at Glasgow Cathedral, attended by the Prince of Wales.

The service, which will be shown live in George Square, will be followed by a procession to the Cenotaph in the square for a wreath-laying service. Later, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will attend an evening ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s cemetery at St Symphorien.

The first and last British, and the last Commonwealth, soldiers to die on the Western Front are buried there along with the first recipient of the Victoria Cross.

The event, for around 500 invited guests, will include readings, music and poetry and acknowledge the British, Irish, Commonwealth and German war dead that lie there in almost equal numbers. It will be screened live in Mons town square and include a recording of a unique collaboration between the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

At 10pm, a service of Solemn Commemoration at Westminster Abbey will feature the extinguishing of candles, with an oil lamp being extinguished at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11pm, the exact time Britain joined the First World War.

The service will include letters sent home from the front and the poem 1914 by Wilfred Owen and a prayer spoken in German. The final light will be extinguished by the Duchess of Cornwall. Alongside this, services will be held in Anglican churches around the UK.

During the same hour, places of worship, other public buildings, workplaces and private homes will take part in Lights Out, a government-backed project to see lights switched off for an hour from 10pm, echoing the reported comment by then foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey about the lamps going out across Europe.