The Most Reverend Justin Welby, who became the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2013, was welcomed to the MOD’s strategic headquarters in Whitehall by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Lord Astor, and the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Houghton.
The Archbishop was updated on current military operations before meeting with the service chaplains, alongside military and civilian staff, in the Memorial Courtyard.
Following this, the Archbishop joined service personnel at the Cenotaph for the Act of Remembrance led by the Western Front Association.
The moving ceremony began with the Last Post being sounded by a bugler from the Scots Guards, the final note marking exactly 95 years since the guns fell silent in France and Flanders on 11 November 1918.
The Archbishop said:
At this time of year it’s essential that we remember and give thanks for all those who gave their lives for the sake of freedom in the 2 world wars, and also remember those who still risk their lives as servicemen and women in our Armed Forces.
It’s a time to recommit ourselves to the cause of peace and to seek to play our own small part as agents of reconciliation.
General Houghton said:
It was both a pleasure and a privilege to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury and highlight the hard work of service personnel and defence civilian staff. Christianity stands alongside other faith groups as a foundation for many within the Armed Forces and we are delighted to further our strong relationship with the Church.
Acts of Remembrance took place simultaneously across the United Kingdom, encompassing services such as that at the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and the collective paying of respects by members of the public for the Royal British Legion’s ‘Silence in the Square’ at Trafalgar Square in London.
Soldiers from 7th Battalion The Rifles and sailors from HMS President formed a guard of honour at the Lloyd’s Building in London.
There was a 2-minute silence as part of the remembrance services being held across the UK. The Lloyd’s bell was struck and a bugler from the Honourable Artillery Company sounded the last post.
In Belgium, the Duke of Edinburgh attended a ‘sacred soil’ ceremony alongside soldiers and horses of the Household Division, Belgian soldiers and schoolchildren from both the United Kingdom and Belgium.
The soil, gathered from some 70 First World War battlefields and Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries, will be brought back to the UK to form the centrepiece of a Flanders Field memorial garden at Wellington Barracks, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the First World War.