Amongst a sea of poppies and veterans, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey today, to pay their respects ahead of Remembrance Sunday. The Duchess of Cornwall was due to join them, but she pulled out of the engagement this morning due to a chest infection.
Prince Harry has been a regular at the event for seven years; of course, the Duke served two tours of Afghanistan and lost friends and comrades in the conflict.
This year was a first for Meghan, however, who chose a navy and blue outfit for the occasion, while her husband was in his Blues and Royals frock coat.
The Duchess of Cornwall is resting up at home today; a statement from Clarence House said earlier this morning: “The Duchess of Cornwall has been told by her doctor to cancel her engagements owing to a chest infection which has got progressively worse over the last few days.”
Camilla did not attend a dinner at the London Library last night because of the infection, and is now taking doctor’s advice to rest. She ‘is deeply disappointed’ at being unable to go today, as patron of the Poppy Factory, where the traditional paper poppies are made and the organisers of the Field of Remembrance.
She ‘is determined to do everything she can to be well enough for the major events of the coming weekend’. The Duchess usually stands on the Foreign Office balcony with The Duchess of Cambridge and, in more recent years, The Queen for the event at the Cenotaph.
Back at the Abbey, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex viewed the plots of poppy crosses position by regiments, military units and organisations associated with the First World War and the conflicts since.
The Field of Remembrance has been organised since November 1928, when only two Remembrance tribute crosses were planted. Today, approximately 70,000 crosses are produced by the factory team each year and planted at the abbey, on more than 360 plots.
Prince Harry laid his cross first, followed by Meghan. Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis, president of the Poppy Factory, also planted a cross on behalf of The Duchess of Cornwall.
The Last Post was then played and Big Ben rang out to mark 11am; a two-minute silence came after the Exhortation to Remembrance was spoken by Jarvis: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”
The Sussexes then spent time speaking with those at the Field, many of whom are veterans or family of those who paid the ultimate price in the theatre of war.
Today marks the official opening of the Field of Remembrance, and it will stay open for a further 10 days.
We can expect to see the royal couple at the Festival of Remembrance on Saturday night, as well as Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph with the extended Royal Family.