Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday
Royal British Legion's Paper Poppy - white background.jpg
The poppy is worn around the time of Remembrance Sunday (traditionally from All Souls' Day (November 2) until the latter of Remembrance Day (November 11) or Remembrance Sunday)
Official nameRemembrance Sunday
Observed byCommonwealth Nations
Liturgical Color(Red or green)
ObservancesParades, silences
DateSecond Sunday in November
2017 dateNovember 12  (2017-11-12)
2018 dateNovember 11  (2018-11-11)
2019 dateNovember 10  (2019-11-10)
2020 dateNovember 8  (2020-11-08)
Related toRemembrance Day and Armistice Day

Remembrance Sunday is held in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations as a day "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts".[1] It is held on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11 November, Armistice Day,[2] the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918.

Across The United Kingdom, Remembrance Sunday is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in most cities, towns and villages, attended by civic dignitaries, ex-servicemen and -women (many are members of the Royal British Legion and other veterans' organisations), members of local armed forces regular and reserve units (Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve, Army and Territorial Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force), military cadet forces (Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps as well as the Combined Cadet Force) and youth organisations (e.g. Scouts, Boys' Brigade, Girls' Brigade and Guides). Wreaths of remembrance poppies are laid on the memorials and two minutes' silence is held at 11 a.m. Church bells are usually rung half-muffled, creating a sombre effect.

National ceremony in the United Kingdom

The ceremony at the Cenotaph
Group of wreaths laid during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in London

The national ceremony is held in London at the Cenotaph on Whitehall.

Two minutes' silence is held at 11 a.m., before the laying of the wreaths. The silence represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the guns of Europe fell silent.[3] This silence is started by Royal Marines buglers sounding Last Post and ended by Royal Marines buglers sounding The Rouse. Gunners of the Royal Horse Artillery fire a gun salute at the end of the silence.

The first wreath was traditionally laid on behalf of the nation by the Queen but as she ages her representative Prince of Wales, lays the first wreath. Wreaths are then laid by senior members of the Royal Family, formerly this including the Duke of Edinburgh but due to his age he now watches, alongside the queen from a balcony, and further wreaths are laid by the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal, and the Duke of Kent. Other members of the Royal Family watch the ceremony from the Foreign Office balcony. Some members of the Royal Family may be abroad or in other parts of the United Kingdom where they will usually lay wreaths at local ceremonies.

Wreaths are then laid by the Prime Minister (and other Commonwealth leaders if they are present[4]), leaders of major political parties, and the Foreign Secretary; Commonwealth High Commissioners, and the Irish Ambassador (since 2014);[5] and representatives from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force; the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets; and finally, the civilian emergency services.

A short religious service of remembrance is then conducted by the Bishop of London. The hymn O God Our Help In Ages Past is sung, led by the massed bands and the Choir of the Chapel Royal.[6] The national anthem God Save the Queen is then sung, before the royal party depart.

Before the ceremony, military bands (Army, Marine, and RAF) play live music each year, following the list of the Traditional Music of Remembrance (see below).

After the ceremony, as the bands play, a huge parade of veterans, organised by the Royal British Legion, marches past the Cenotaph. Each contingent salutes the Cenotaph as they pass and a great many wreaths are handed over to be laid at it. They salute the Cenotaph (Empty Tomb in Greek) as they are paying tribute to all those it represents, to all those who died and who lie buried elsewhere.

As the veterans march back to Horse Guards Parade a member of the Royal Family takes their salute in front of the Guards Memorial.