Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Royal Family Gathers For Remembrance Sunday

The Royal family gathered at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in London.

This year, the Duchess of Sussex joined the Countess of Wessex and Sir Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne's husband, on the balcony.

We saw several nice photos of Meghan and Sophie chatting. They both share common interests in their work supporting women. Like Harry and Meghan, Sophie and Edward are raising their family close to Windsor.

Her Majesty was joined on a balcony by the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge. It is the third year the Queen has appeared on the balcony. Now approaching her 94th birthday, HM's decision to ask Charles to lay her wreath has been seen as an example of a shift in head of state duties.

The National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall is a unique expression of homage devoted to the memory of those who have given their lives in war.

It was originally conceived as a commemoration of the First World War's dead by King George V in 1919, but after the Second World War the scope of the ceremony was extended to focus on the dead of both wars. Remembrance Day or Memorial Day is observed in Commonwealth countries.

As the clock struck eleven, a two-minute silence was observed. The silence represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the guns of Europe fell silent.

From GOV.UK: 'Every year, the two minute silence for the remembrance service on Whitehall is conducted with military precision. On Horse Guards Parade the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire their First World War guns to mark the start of the silence, and a Corps of Army Music bugler from the Household Division marks its end at precisely the same time that the guns fire again, 120 seconds later.'

Prince Charles leads the wreath laying portion of the event.

William, Harry and the Duke of York laid wreaths.

William wore his RAF uniform and Harry was dressed in the Royal Marines uniform.

Her Majesty appeared to shed a tear as she watched on.

The march past is an annual event for British and Commonwealth former military and civilian service personnel to honour the fallen of the British Armed Forces involved in the two World Wars and all conflicts since.

Moving scenes.

It was heartwarming to hear about 94-year-old WWII veteran Harry Billinge and his inspiring efforts to raise a pound for every one of the 22,000 British troops who died in Normandy for a memorial. Harry tells the BBC "Don't say I'm a hero. I'm no hero. I was lucky".

More from the Normandy Memorial Trust:

'Harry Billinge landed on Gold Beach at ‘H Hour’, 6.30am on 6 June 1944. He was just 18 and part of the first wave of troops. Harry was a Sapper with the Royal Engineers. Now 94 years old, Harry has dedicated his life to remembering his friends who never made it back home.
Harry has committed himself to fundraising for the monument which will commemorate the sacrifices made by his friends, honouring the bond of comradeship forged on the sands of Normandy so long ago. He lives in Cornwall and is often seen on the High Street in St Austell, proudly wearing his medals and green beret, collecting money from passers by and telling youngsters about what happened during the war to ensure his friends’ sacrifice is never forgotten.'

Prince Charles thanking Harry for his work.

This year's Poppy Appeal saw a host of well-known faces go undercover, with the help of GCHQ in their centenary year, to highlight the unseen contribution of our armed forces.

It's always special to see so many people from all over the UK volunteering for the annual appeal. Daphne Snowden has been collecting since she was 11 years old. She was presented with her 65 year service bar in 2016.

This year's appeal is aiming to raise £50 million to help support serving and ex-serving members of the armed forces community and their families. If you wish to donate please click here.

It is the second year the Duchess has attended the event. Meghan joined Germany's first lady Elke Büdenbender on the balcony of the Foreign Office at Whitehall last year. It was a touching gesture as it marked the first time a representative of Germany had laid a wreath at the Cenotaph.

A video from this morning's ceremonies.

Meghan selected a black belted Stella McCartney coat from the Autumn/Winter 2019 Collection.

A very similar Belted Wool Coat by the designer retails for £1,545 at My Theresa where it's described as: "Falling into clean lines, this black coat from Stella McCartney is packed with timeless appeal. Tailored from wool, this belted style features a wide lapel, glossy gold buttons and a wrap front."

Meghan's hat was very reminiscent of styles worn by Audrey Hepburn. The UFO No More team report it's the 'Nina' hat by one her favourite milliners Stephen Jones.

And a closer look at Meghan's poppy.

Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter shared a beautiful poem composed by 14-year-old Joshua Dyer who was tasked at school to write a piece about Remembrance Sunday. One hour later he produced 'One Thousand Men Are Walking'. I think it's incredibly moving such a young boy has a keen understanding of the importance of the day. It is vital we continue to commemorate and remember so the next generation like Joshua will know and understand the ultimate sacrifice so many made.

Lest we forget.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

The Royals Attend Moving Festival of Remembrance

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined the Queen and a host of royals at the Royal Albert Hall tonight for the annual Festival of Remembrance.

During Remembrance Week, Her Majesty and members of the Royal family lead the nation in commemorating and honouring the men and women who have sacrificed themselves in service to our country. The period in November marks one of the rare occasions we see the family together in large numbers to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I often hear readers from outside the UK comment on how the UK pays tribute to our fallen heroes. I believe it is not only an honour to do so, but vital for future generations to remember those who gave their today for our tomorrow.

On Thursday, Harry and Meghan paid tribute at the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey where they were privileged to spend time with a host of veterans including twenty who served on D-Day. Supporting the armed forces is a central part of Harry's work following his time in the army.

The royals were greeted by Mr Ian McCulloch, President of the Royal Albert Hall, and Lieutenant General James Bashall, President of the Royal British Legion.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving.

Each year the Festival of Remembrance focuses on specific themes. This year, it marks the 75th anniversaries of the great battles of 1944 - Monte Cassino, Kohima and Imphal, D-Day -  and the collaboration and friendship of the British, Commonwealth and Allied armies who fought them.

 It also celebrates the role of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters responsible for signals intelligence) and the role of those in the secret service whose efforts are not publicly known.

The event has been held at the Royal Albert Hall every year since 1927. Her Majesty has been patron of the Royal British Legion since 1952, only missing two festivals in the many years since.

Other royals in attendance included the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent. Camilla had been very poorly during the week with a severe chest infection which forced her to miss several engagements, so it was good to see she's on the mend and felt well enough to attend tonight.

Ahead of the arrival of the royals, the hanging of the hammercloth takes place. Archivist Suzanne Keyte said: "There are many things that an archivist expects to find as part of their job, but one of the most unusual and rather lovely jobs at the Royal Albert Hall is caring for the hammercloth and ensuring that it is hung from the balcony in the Royal Box whenever the reigning monarch visits the Hall. The hammercloth is a beautiful and very heavy velvet curtain bearing the Royal Coat of Arms and the initials of the reigning monarch of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. The origin of the word ‘hammercloth’ is rather vague but was usually meant to mean the heavily embroidered cloth that hung over a coachman’s seat on horse drawn coaches, often embroidered with a coat of arms."

The Royal British Legion's annual festival commemorates those who have lost their lives in service of their country.

It takes place on the eve of Remembrance Sunday, with two performances on the day - a matinée open to members of the public and an evening event for members of the Legion, their families, officials and royals.

Presented by Huw Edwards, performers included James Blunt and Leona Lewis singing alongside the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and the Band of HM Royal Marines.

Actor and pianist Jeff Goldblum takes to the stage with ballroom dancers.

Tonight's event also paid tribute to the company of RFA Mounts Bay who were instrumental in delivering supplies and aid to the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian this year.

Omid Scobie said when Meghan first attended the Festival of Remembrance last year she later told aides she had goosebumps throughout the entire evening. She and Harry were seated behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Torch of Remembrance was carried by 3rd Officer Sarah Stevens.

The citation was read by Captain Rob Anders: "We honour the Commonwealth nations and our allies who joined Britain in defending its freedoms, values and way of life."

The Chelsea Pensioners choir performed 'The Old Brigade'.

Actor Daniel Mays read read the poem 'The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino' as newsreel of the battle played. It is one of the best known Polish military songs of WWII.

D-Day veteran Eddie Gains talked about landing in Normandy: "When you think about all the lives lost, it's very important to remember, I'm lucky to have survived."

The Duchess channeled a classic 1950s silhouette with a black brocade bespoke Erdem dress with a fitted waist and a full skirt. The piece is very much reminiscent of styles favoured by Grace Kelly during the height of her career and early years as Princess of Monaco. The dress features an open collared neckline, buttons and a waistbelt.

Meghan wore her Aquazzura Deneuve bow pumps. It may be the lighting, but I believe she wore her navy pair. 

Meghan's new ruby heart earrings are the Jessica McCormack Signature GYPSET style (with thanks to What Meghan Wore).

Meghan carried a black clutch.

And wore a poppy on her lapel.

The Festival of Remembrance will be televised on BBC One at 9 pm. We'll see the Royal family, including Harry and Meghan, for Remembrance Sunday tomorrow morning.