While Americans celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th, the United Kingdom celebrates Remembrance Day to pay tribute to those in the armed forces who have died like American Memorial Day in May.
This year, Queen Elizabeth handed over the duty of laying a wreath to her son, Prince Charles for the second time in her reign. This marks the sixth time Queen Elizabeth has not laid a wreath and the first time since 1999 where she abdicated her duties.
The other times were when she was pregnant or abroad. The BBC reported that a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The Queen wishes to be alongside the Duke of Edinburgh and he will be in the balcony.”
This is, though, the first time during her reign that Queen Elizabeth has observed the ceremony from a balcony on site. The news of her not participating in laying the wreath came last month. Many suspect this is due to the Queen’s age as well as a transition in the monarchy and possible abdication of the throne.
Also in attendance at the ceremony was Prince Harry, Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Phillip, and other royals. Prince Harry opened the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey and he and Prince William also laid wreaths at the Cenotaph. At one point during the ceremony, Queen Elizabeth was overcome by emotion and wiped a tear away.
Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II full name Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on 21 April 1926. She has been Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand since 6 February 1952. Additionally, she is Head of the Commonwealth and queen of 12 countries that have become independent since her accession: Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Elizabeth was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and she was educated privately at home. Her father acceded to the throne on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII in 1936, from which time she was the heir presumptive. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she has four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
Elizabeth’s many historic visits and meetings include a state visit to the Republic of Ireland and visits to or from five popes. She has seen major constitutional changes, such as devolution in the United Kingdom, Canadian partition, and the decolonization of Africa. She has reigned through various wars and conflicts involving many of her realms. Significant events have included her coronation in 1953, and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, and 2012 respectively. In 2017 she became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee. She is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch as well as the world’s longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state, the oldest and longest-reigning current monarch, and longest-serving current head of state.
Elizabeth has occasionally faced republican sentiments and press criticism of the royal family, in particular after the breakdown of her children’s marriages and the Windsor Castle fire in 1992 (her annuls horrible) and the death in 1997 of her son’s ex-wife Diana, Princess of Wales; however, support for the monarchy remains high, as does her personal popularity.
The 1960s and 1970s saw an acceleration in the decolonization of Africa and the Caribbean. Over 20 countries gained independence from Britain as part of a planned transition to self-government. In 1965, however, the Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Smith, in opposition to moves towards majority rule, declared unilateral independence from Britain while still expressing “loyalty and devotion” to Elizabeth. Although the Queen dismissed him in a formal declaration, and the international community applied sanctions against Rhodesia, his regime survived for over a decade. As Britain’s ties to its former empire weakened, the British government sought entry to the European Community, a goal it achieved in 1973.