Remembrance service format changes shelved amid controversy


Politicians will lay wreaths individually at the Cenotaph remembrance service after plans to change the format in order to reduce the time the Queen and ageing veterans had to wait were abandoned amid controversy.

It had been proposed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson, the DUP's Nigel Dodds and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron would step up with floral tributes together.

That would have matched changes which will see some members of the Royal Family pay their respects together.

Buckingham Palace said the shake-up had resulted from discussions of "whether the service format might allow the march-past of veterans to start earlier" to recognise that "a number of veterans wait some time for the parade to move off, and then have a lengthy march to Horse Guards Parade".

But the arrangement caused eyebrows to be raised at Westminster as Prime Minister David Cameron was still to lay his wreath separately from fellow politicians.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond told The Times is was "not in anyone's interest to tamper with it".

He added: "It is the ceremony with the utmost solemnity and dignity. People thinking about this should also remember it is about service personnel and the families of the fallen, and keep that uppermost in mind."

Downing Street had said it was not aware of any opposition parties raising concerns about their leaders' proposed involvement.

But the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - which oversees ceremonial arrangements - said it was reverting to the traditional arrangements.

"After discussions, it has been decided the way the leaders of the main political parties lay their wreaths will remain the same as last year."

It insisted the wait could be reduced in other ways.

"This can happen while still keeping the service slightly shorter," a spokeswoman said.

Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans hit out at the decision.

"For goodness' sake: the Queen is nearly 90," she wrote on Twitter.

"Remembrance isn't about politicians; lay your wreaths and stop moaning."

A Palace spokesman said: "The Royal Household is entirely content with the arrangements for this year's Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph."

No details have been released of how much time is expected to be saved.