Queen leads annual ceremony honoring war dead

Image: An ex-serviceman arrives at the Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, London
An ex-serviceman arrives at the Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph in London on Sunday. The Festival of Remembrance is an annual event lead by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. Ben Sansall / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Queen Elizabeth II and other senior members of the royal family Sunday led a tribute to Britain's war dead at the annual Remembrance Day ceremony in central London Sunday.

The solemn memorial at the Cenotaph, held under rare sunny skies on a warmish November day, is a focal point of national observances to honor the nation's war dead. Similar ceremonies were held in dozens of towns and cities throughout Britain.

The queen, wearing a black outfit and hat, was joined by her husband, Prince Philip, along with Prince Charles and Prince William in laying wreaths at the Cenotaph in central London.

The queen, walking steadily, placed the first wreath, then bowed in front of the Cenotaph, with its inscription honoring "The Glorious Dead."

For the first time, the events took place without a veteran of World War I.

Nationwide remembrance
The nationwide remembrance services were held as British troops continue to face hazardous operations in Afghanistan. Ceremonies were also held at British bases in that country.

The queen was joined by Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition party leaders and several former prime ministers, including Tony Blair and John Major.

Thousands of veterans, many wearing campaign ribbons and medals, marched past the Cenotaph as well-wishers watched, most wearing poppies in their lapels as a show of support for those who have lost their lives in conflicts.

Britain observed two minutes' silence Friday to mark Armistice Day, and the English soccer team Saturday wore poppies on special armbands to show support.

International soccer authorities allowed the poppies to be worn only after intervention by Cameron and Prince William, who argued that the poppies were not political symbols.