The Queen wore a mask publicly for the first time earlier this week, as she attended a private service to mark 100 years since the burial of a serviceman at Westminster Abbey, in the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
The Queen’s Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, placed a bouquet of flowers at the grave, on Her Majesty’s behalf, as she looked on.
The flowers were a replica bouquet from her wedding in 1947, featuring orchids and myrtle, a nod to the tradition of royal brides sending their bouquets to the Abbey.
Royal brides have done so since The Duchess of York laid hers there in 1922. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – the future Queen Consort and Queen Mother – paused spontaneously on her way out of the church on her wedding day, laying her flowers on the tomb, which was created two years previous.
Elizabeth had lost her brother, Fergus, in the First World War, as he served in the Black Watch. He was just 26.
This is a tradition followed by the most recent bride, Princess Beatrice, too.
The Unknown Warrior is an important symbol of remembrance, representing all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was not known, or whose bodies remained unidentified.
The ceremony took place earlier this week, before the national lockdown began, when The Queen also joined the Dean of Westminster in prayers. The Queen’s Piper then played a lament, The Flowers of the Forest.
The Monarch, who is continuing lockdown at Windsor Castle with Prince Philip, wore black for the occasion, with her Jardine Star brooch, and a matcing mask, trimmed with white.
In an act of remembrance, a bouquet of flowers featuring orchids and myrtle – based on Her Majesty’s own wedding bouquet from 1947 – was placed on the grave of the Unknown Warrior @wabbey
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 7, 2020
At 94, Her Majesty is in the ‘at risk’ group, and many have questioned her not previously wearing a mask to events, even if government guidance didn’t require this.
The grave of the Unknown Warrior holds the remains of an unidentified British serviceman who died in northern France during the First World War. His body was buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920 – two years after the ceasefire – following a procession through Whitehall.
George V placed a wreath on the coffin as it passed the Cenotaph. The Cenotaph, around which the annual Remembrance Sunday service focuses, was unveiled on this route, as a symbol of an empty tomb and mark to remember the fallen.
Mimicking a traditional burial, the King threw earth onto the coffin as it was lowered into the grave at the Abbey; this earth was from France. He was joined by his son, the future George VI, at the event.
The Duchess of Cornwall attended the Field of Remembrance at the Abbey on Wednesday, and we expect to see senior Royals at Remembrance Sunday later today, but in an altered, socially-distant format.