Queen leads nation in scaled-back Remembrance Sunday events

The Queen has led the nation in marking Remembrance Sunday, as people around the UK privately paid their respects at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 94-year-old monarch was joined by family members and the Prime Minister in commemorating the nation's war dead at the scaled-back service at the Cenotaph in London.

The Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Royal and Earl of Wessex laid wreaths at the ceremony, which was held outdoors with guests required to observe social distancing.

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Scaled-back Remembrance Sunday events
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Scaled-back Remembrance Sunday events
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II watches from the balcony of the Foreign Office, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP)
Britian's Prime Minister Boris Johnson carries a wreath, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain's Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, watches from the balcony of the Foreign Office, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain's Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge watche from the balcony of the Foreign Office, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP)
A small number of serving and former Royal Marine Commandos gather, at the Commando Memorial for the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony, at Spean Bridge, near Fort William, Scotland, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur players stand a minutes silence as part of remembrance commemorations ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur at the Hawthorns in West Bromwich, England, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (Laurence Griffiths/Pool via AP)
A view of veterans, ahead of the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain's Prince Charles and Prince William walk, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP)
Britian's Prime Minister Boris Johnson carries a wreath, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP)
Former British Prime Minister Theresa May stands, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron stands, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair stands, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with Ian Ritchie from Hillingdon and District Royal British Legion, background, lays a wreath of remembrance at Uxbridge War Memorial ahead of Remembrance Sunday, in west London, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)
A small number of serving and former Royal Marine Commandos at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, near Fort William, for the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 08: Carrie Symonds, partner of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets veterans during the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 08, 2020 in London, England. Remembrance Sunday services are still able to go ahead despite the covid-19 measures in place across the various nations of the UK. Each country has issued guidelines to ensure the safety of those taking part. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
World War Two Malcolm Clerc, 94, who served in the Navy Atlantic convoys, with daughter Sally after a socially distanced Remembrance service in Knutsford, Cheshire. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
Viscount Brookeborough, Her MajestyÕs Lord Lieutenant for Co. Fermanagh, prepares to lay a wreath during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 8, 2020. - Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. This year, the service has been closed to members of the public due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
World War Two veteran John Maffey 93, stands on his doorstep in Knutsford, Cheshire, during the two minutes silence to pay his respects on Remembrance Sunday. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
Clergy wear face coverings during a closed and socially distanced remembrance service at Exeter Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attends the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 8, 2020. - Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. This year, the service has been closed to members of the public due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by PETER NICHOLLS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PETER NICHOLLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (L) and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 8, 2020. - Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. This year, the service has been closed to members of the public due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by PETER NICHOLLS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PETER NICHOLLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A picture shows wooden crosses bearing a remembrance poppy and the names of the fallen are seen planted in the ground by the village war memorial in Brenchley, south east England, on November 8, 2020 on Remembrance Sunday. - Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of the First World War and services across Commonwealth countries remember servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. This year, services have been cancelled or paired down due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Poppies in the Remembrance Garden at the Royal British Legion in Grangemouth are seen through raindrops on Remembrance Sunday. Grangemouth used to be home to Grangemouth Airport where Spitfire pilots trained during the Second World War. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
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The public were unable to attend this year, with the event taking place during a second national lockdown in England, and were instead encouraged to take part in the two-minute silence at 11am at home.

In other years, Whitehall is usually packed with thousands of veterans and military, but on Sunday less than 30 veterans were in attendance.

The Queen, dressed in a black hat and coat, looked on from a balcony with Lady-in-Waiting Susan Rhodes at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building, as Charles laid a wreath on her behalf.

The Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Cornwall looked on from a separate balcony, while the Countess of Wessex and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence were on a third balcony.

The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge during the Remembrance Sunday service
The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge during the Remembrance Sunday service (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Duke of York did not take part in the event, having stepped down from official royal duties following fierce criticism after his Panorama interview about his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Boris Johnson was joined by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and former prime ministers Sir John Major, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Theresa May.

The Duke of Sussex, who stepped down as a working member of the royal family and now lives in California, was not at the ceremony but spoke about what serving his country means to him.

In a podcast to mark Remembrance Sunday, Harry, who spent 10 years in the armed forces, said: "Being able to wear my uniform, being able to stand up in service of one's country, these are amongst the greatest honours there are in life.

"To me, the uniform is a symbol of something much bigger, it's symbolic of our commitment to protecting our country, as well as protecting our values.

"These values are put in action through service, and service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos."

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, said some veterans might find Remembrance Sunday a lonely experience this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Sir Nick told the BBC One's Andrew Marr Show the guidelines would be "particularly tough on our veterans", adding: "They traditionally have had the opportunity to get together and talk about their memories and their reflections, but equally to strut their stuff."

Merchant Navy veteran Bill Bennett, 94, wears his medals whilst at his home in Kidderminster, during the two-minute silence
Merchant Navy veteran Bill Bennett, 94, wears his medals whilst at his home in Kidderminster, during the two-minute silence (Jacob King/PA)

Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "Services across the UK will sadly look and feel very different this year but what's important is the significance of Remembrance Sunday has not changed.

"Today remains a poignant reminder to reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of all those who served.

"The tenacity and comradery of previous generations in their struggles should serve as an inspiration to us all as we deal with new challenges Covid-19 presents.

"It should also remind us of the great debt we owe to our veterans, to keep their memories alive."

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