Queen attends Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall

  • 9 November 2013
  • From the section UK
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrive at the Royal Albert Hall for the Festival of Remembrance
Image caption The Queen and Prince Philip, along with other royals, are attending the event

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have attended the Festival of Remembrance, as part of a three-day commemoration of Britain's war dead.

The event at the Royal Albert Hall honoured those who fought and died in conflicts past and present.

A ceremony was also held as the hall's South Steps were renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Steps.

On Sunday, there will be remembrance services and on Monday a two-minute silence to mark Armistice Day.

In the Middle East, more than 100 RAF service personnel from the 83 Expeditionary Air Group were among the first to mark the commemoration, with a sunset ceremony at their base.

At noon on Saturday, Afghan war widows marched with widows from World War Two, the Korean War and the Gulf War to the Cenotaph in Whitehall for a 30-minute service.

And football grounds across the country paused shortly before the afternoon fixtures as a minute's silence was observed.

'Moving and engaging'

This year's Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance also marked the 70th anniversaries of the Battle of the Atlantic and the Dambuster raids.

Image caption Before the festival a ceremony was held as the Royal Albert Hall's South Steps were renamed in the Queen's honour

A television audience of 5.2 million is expected to watch the event on BBC One which featured performances by singer James Blunt, Katie Melua, the tenor Alfie Boe and new group, the Poppy Girls.

As well as the Queen and Prince Philip, other members of the Royal Family attended, including the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The event saw tributes from performers interspersed with real-life stories from former and serving forces personnel, including the last Dambuster.

Image caption Chelsea Pensioners joined Chelsea players to observe a minute's silence before kick-off at Stamford Bridge
Image caption The RAF's 83 Expeditionary Air Group held a sunset service at their base
Image caption Football grounds across the UK, including Anfield in Liverpool (pictured), paused to hold a minute's silence
Image caption Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was killed in Woolwich in May, is among the soldiers remembered at the Field of Remembrance, opened by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry on Thursday

Squadron Leader Johnny Johnson was given a standing ovation and applauded for more than a minute as he stood with the Torch of Remembrance.

There was also a standing ovation for the Chelsea Pensioners, with the Queen and duke rising to their feet as the men marched into the hall.

The Poppy Girls, an all-girl group picked from a search for talent among forces families, performed their new single The Call (No Need To Say Goodbye) which is raising money for the Poppy Appeal.

The Queen seemed particularly pleased to witness an emotional reunion for one of the young members of the group.

Megan Adams, 10, from Stirling, was not expecting to see her father, Lieutenant Commander Billy Adams, for another three months as he has been serving with the Royal Navy in the Seychelles as part of an anti-piracy task force.

But after host Huw Edwards announced a special guest, her father walked down the steps towards his daughter, who burst into tears and shouted: "Daddy!" as she ran towards him.

The audience loudly applauded the special moment, with the Queen smiling broadly and looking pleasantly surprised as she exchanged comments with Prince Philip and Princess Anne.

'Bring back memories'

The War Widows' Service is organised by the War Widows' Association (WWA), which has more than 4,000 members.

Media captionTrevor Miners is one of a handful of surviving Secret Army veterans

Alberta McMenemy, 65, of the WWA, said the service was special to many.

"It brings back memories about when our husbands died. It is good that there is an appreciation for those who have lost their lives," said Mrs McMenemy, who has been a widow since her husband died fighting in the Gulf War in 1990.

The Cenotaph in central London will also be the focus of the national service of Remembrance on Sunday, while a two-minute silence will be held at 11:00 on Armistice Day, to commemorate the end of World War One.

Ahead of this weekend's events Prince Harry and Prince Philip visited the Field of Remembrance outside Westminster Abbey to pay their respects and observe a two-minute silence.

On Saturday morning, Commando 999 raised money for the "Royal Marines Family" by attempting to break the world speed march record.

They tried to carry kit and weapons weighing over 40lbs (18kg) 26.2 miles (42km) through central London in under four hours 19 minutes to commemorate the Royal Marines' 350th birthday.

The Royal Marines were quicker than previous attempts but did not beat the record as one man had to pull out half a mile before the end.

They completed the race around London in four hours, 17 minutes and 21 seconds. They raised more than £20,000 to help Royal Marines who have been affected mentally and physically by war.

It was to be followed by a group of 50 veterans and serving marines speed marching a half-marathon, before a wreath is laid at the Royal Marines' memorial.

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