At Westminster Abbey earlier today, Prince Harry opened the Field of Remembrance in the churchyard’s garden, ahead of this week’s national event, Remembrance Sunday.
The former army captain was dressed in the black frock coat of the Household Division, with a poppy attached the the side of his cap, and was met by the Dean of Westminster, the head of the Royal British Legion and members of the group upon arrival.
Harry took one of the small wooden crosses, affixed with a poppy, and placed it in front of the memorial to two British soldiers, one from both World Wars.
The Royal then saluted the fallen.
The Last Post was sounded by a musician from the Band of the Honourable Artillery Company, followed by a two minutes’ silence.
Other guests included veterans, Chelsea Pensioners and members of the armed forces. One in particular that many paid attention to was Watchman – a Staffordshire Bull Terrier – the mascot for the Staffordshire Regiment. The dog also wore a poppy on his regimental coat.
Outside of Westminster Abbey, 250 plots have been marked out, to allow for regimental and armed forces associations to ‘plant’ their poppies of remembrance, creating a ‘field’ of the flowers. Many are marked with the names of the fallen.
After the remembrance commemorations have ended, the crosses and poppies will be burnt, and their ashes scattered on the battlefields of France and Belgium.
The Field of Remembrance is a tradition begun in 1928, when just two poppy crosses were placed outside the abbey; since then, it has grown each year in number, and poignantly resembles a military cemetery when full.
Prince Harry spoke with veterans and guests after the service, seeming to charm the crowds.
The Prince joked with Matt Weston, who was a bomb disposal expert in Afghanistan, about bringing his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, to the event.
“I took the Mickey and asked where his missus was and he said she wasn’t here,” the former-soldier, who lost both legs in a 2009 explosion in Afghanistan, said. “I asked if she would come next time because she’s awesome.
Seven-year-old Harrison Degiorgio-Lewis also spoke to Harry, who recognised him having met the youngster at the same event last year.
Harrison’s uncle, Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, was killed in Afghanistan in 2008, and now his proud nephew wears his medals and beret.
“Harry recognised him – they have a bond, as they share a birthday,” Harrison’s grandmother said. “Harry asked him about his uncle Aaron, and he said how proud he was.”