Camilla leaves floral tribute at grave of the Unknown Warrior on Armistice Day

·3-min read

The Duchess of Cornwall followed in the footsteps of the Duke of Edinburgh when she laid a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Warrior to mark Armistice Day.

Camilla observed the tradition which Philip started as she met dozens of military veterans at the Field of Remembrance in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

At the last resting place of the warrior inside the Abbey, she laid a bouquet which featured red roses and sprigs of rosemary, symbolic of remembrance, as the opening of the field fell on Armistice Day – November 11 – when the First World War ended.

Watch: UK honours the fallen in silent tribute on Armistice Day

Former sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines fell silent for two minutes at 11am after the Last Post was sounded by a bugler.

Camilla then toured hundreds of plots in the grounds of the Abbey where regiments, military associations and other organisations had laid out tiny crosses in memory of the fallen.

Arthur Barty, the Queen Mother’s driver for 27 years until her death in 2002, was among the veterans and representing a plot for his former unit the Black Watch.

Armistice Day 2021
The Duchess of Cornwall chats to a Chelsea pensioner during her visit to the Field of Remembrance (Frank Augstein/PA)

He said: “It’s vital we keep this tradition alive of commemorating the fallen. I came here on Tuesday to make sure everything was in order and our plot looks immaculate.”

Chelsea pensioners were dotted around the site with their scarlet coats and Camilla stopped to talk to a few, including Peter Fullelove, a former Black Watch private.

Duchess of Cornwall
The Duchess of Cornwall met veterans and representatives from the Armed Forces during the visit (Frank Augstein/PA)

The 88-year-old joked: “I asked the duchess if she stopped because she liked the colour of my coat and she said she did.”

Greg Hedges, 56, representing the Staffordshire Regiment Association, chatted to Camilla as she stroked the organisation’s mascot Corporal Watchman VI, a three-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier.

The former Warrant Officer 2nd Class, who served with the Staffordshire Regiment, said: “She was having a chat to our mascot, they’ve met before and she’s a fan.

“We’ve got people from all over the country who have travelled to be here and it’s important to have that representation and to remember those who have died.”

The Field of Remembrance, organised by the Poppy Factory, has been held in the grounds of Westminster Abbey since November 1928 to commemorate those who have lost their lives in the Armed Forces.

Armistice Day 2021
The Duchess of Cornwall lays a Cross of Remembrance to the fallen (Frank Augstein/PA)

At first, only a handful of poppies were planted around a single cross when the Poppy Factory’s founder, Major George Howson, took a group of wounded veterans, a tray of poppies and a collecting tin to the grounds of St Margaret’s Church near the Abbey.

But now tens of thousands of poppies on wooden symbols and tributes are planted every year.

Alice Wingate Pearce, granddaughter of Major General Orde Wingate – the famous leader of the Chindits, a Second World War guerrilla brigade of Gurkha, Burmese and British troops – was proudly wearing his medals, which caught the duchess’s eye.

She said: “It’s a great honour to be here, I haven’t done this before, I explained my grandfather’s medals to the duchess and she said ‘wonderful’.”

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