Nation honours the fallen as Queen unable to attend Remembrance service on health grounds

14 November 2021, 09:16 | Updated: 14 November 2021, 13:41

By Will Taylor

The Queen was unable to attend the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph on health grounds.

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She had been expected to go, with Buckingham Palace previously saying it was her "firm intention".

It followed her cancellation of a series of visits after she spent the night in hospital in October, with doctors telling her to rest.

Prince Charles laid a wreath as the most senior royal attending.

Sir Keir Starmer joined Boris Johnson in paying respects, with former prime ministers John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May also taking part.

Prince Charles laid a wreath for the Queen
Prince Charles laid a wreath for the Queen. Picture: Alamy

The Queen takes the Remembrance service extremely seriously.

In a statement on Sunday morning, Buckingham Palace said before the event: "The Queen, having sprained her back, has decided this morning with great regret that she will not be able to attend today's Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph.

"Her Majesty is disappointed that she will miss the service.

"As in previous years, a wreath will be laid on Her Majesty's behalf by The Prince of Wales."

Read more: Queen spent night in hospital after having to cancel trip, Buckingham Palace says

Read more: Queen carries out first official duties since doctors ordered her to rest

Prince Charles was joined with other senior royals, including Prince William.

The Queen did not attend the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall, but it was already expected that she would not.

Sunday's ceremony returned to pre-Covid levels of attendance, with roughly 10,000 veterans marching past the Cenotaph in Whitehall while hundreds of service personnel lined up there.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Mr Johnson said: "Today we come together to remember those who sacrificed everything in service of our country, in the First World War and every conflict since, including recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's a sacred ceremony that has endured for more than a century because we know the unpayable debt we owe those brave servicemen and women.

"We know that for our tomorrow they gave their today.

"And we know that here at home and around the world, thousands of men and women in uniform still stand ready to defend our unity and our way of life, our values, and at a cost few among us would be willing to pay.

"Today we come together. We wear our poppies with pride and stand as a nation in two minutes of silent tribute.”

Sir Keir said it was "time for us all to stop, reflect, and remember those millions of people from Britain and the Commonwealth who have kept us safe through their service and sacrifice."

He added: "Our way of life, our values and our democracy are hard fought for through life-ending and life-changing sacrifice.

"It is that sacrifice that has ensured we can enjoy the freedoms that we live by every day and that we must never forget."