Queen Elizabeth watched on for the first time in her 65-year reign as Prince Charles led Remembrance Sunday commemorations at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Last month it was announced by Buckingham Palace that Queen Elizabeth asked the Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne, to take on the symbolic duty for the country to honor the country’s war dead.
Earlier this year Prince Philip, 96, retired from public duties and the monarch, who is 91, expressed her desire to stand by Prince Philip’s side during this important annual event in the royal calendar. While Prince Philip has stepped back from day-to-day royal duties, he has still on occasion joined the monarch for official engagements.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip observed the service from the Foreign and Commonwealth Balcony overlooking the Cenotaph, with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Sophie Wessex. the wife of Prince Edward, watched from a second balcony. All of the queen's children laid memorial wreaths as did her grandsons, Prince Williams, who served 7 1/2 years in the Royal Air Force, included posted in the Falkland Islands, and Prince Charles, who served 10 years in the military including two tours in Afghanistan. Prince Philip’s equerry laid a wreath on his behalf.
Prince William, Prince Harry and Princess Kate also honored the nation's heroes at the somber ceremony. The younger generation of royals have been increasing their public duties in a subtle changing of the guard. The Duchess of Cambridge, who is pregmanat with her third child after Prince George, 4 and Prince Charlotte, 2 and Prince William recently moved back to Kensington Palace to pursue royal duties full time.
Charles had previously laid a wreath on behalf of the monarch when she was out of the country, but this was the first time he has done so while his mother, Queen Elizabeth, was present.
Later this week on Nov. 20, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, a milestone not reached by any other monarch in history. The family has decided to mark it privately with a small celebration, according to royal sources, who said, “Any celebration will be a private, family affair. There will be no public event.”
The queen is the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch, surpassing Queen Victoria, with Prince Philip having stood steadfastly at her side throughout her historic reign. During her Golden Jubilee in 1997 marking her 50 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to Philip, saying, “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years”.