Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall today led the nation in two minutes of silence on Armistice Day at Westminster Abbey. They also commemorated 100 years since the burial of the Unknown Warrior there.
Westminster Abbey marked the centenary of the burial with a special service on Armistice Day, which was broadcast on BBC One. Thanks to lockdown, the nation marked the day, that saw the ceasefire of the First World War, from their homes.
The service commemorated the funeral of an unknown British serviceman, dubbed the Unknown Warrior, whose body was brought from Northern France and buried at the west end of the nave at the Abbey on 11th November 1920. He represents all those who lost their lives in the First World War, but whose place of death was not known, or whose bodies remained unidentified.
Led by the Dean of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, as well as Met Police Chief Cressida Dick, were also in attendance with a select, limited group of people.
The idea for the burial of an unknown soldier came from a chaplain at the Western Front, the Reverend David Railton; he wrote to the then-Dean of Westminster, Herbert Ryle, who strongly supported the idea. George V, and the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George were also in favour.
Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, read his poem, ‘The Bed’ to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ceremony, which ends on the lines: “All this for a soul without name or rank or age or home, because you are the son we lost, and your rest is ours.”
The flag, which covered the grave 100 years ago, was taken to the high altar during the service, as well as passages from the Bible punctuating the event. The procession of the flag forms the centre of the annual Armistice Day service, and has been conducted every year since 1920. The flag represents the fallen.
Charles laid a wreath on the Unknown Warrior’s tomb, specifically a wreath of laurel to mimic the one laid by George V – his great-grandfather – 100 years ago.
Camilla, who chose a poppy-print mask, placed a small bouquet on the tomb, while others had put red roses onto the ground.
It is thought The Queen was originally supposed to attend this event, but with the second lockdown and Her Majesty’s advanced age, she sent her heir and future Queen Consort in her place.
The Queen attended a private service at the tomb last week, placing a replica wedding bouquet on the tomb, as she had done in 1947. It was also the first time we had seen the Monarch in a mask.