Nation falls silent as Britain remembers its dead

BRITAIN'S Armed Forces fighting in Afghanistan were joined by Prince William today for a Remembrance Sunday service as the Queen led the nation in honouring the fallen.

At London's Cenotaph war memorial the monarch was the first to lay a wreath to commemorate those servicemen and women killed in all conflicts since the First World War.

Thousands of miles away William, an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter pilot, joined the military congregation at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province for their event honouring Britain's war dead.

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The second-in-line to the throne laid a floral tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in all conflicts and also visited the base's state-of-the-art medical centre with Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

The on-going conflict in Afghanistan has meant Remembrance Sunday still remains a poignant event for many - the number of those who have died since the start of operations in the country in 2001 is now 343.

Stuart Gendall, from the Royal British Legion, said: "Prince William's visit will be absolutely huge I think.

"It's a wonderful gesture, the men and women out there will be bowled over. He will be talking to them as a serviceman to servicemen and women.

"This is a huge gesture of respect and fellowship."

At the first stroke of 11am by Big Ben the two minutes' silence began.

The Queen stood metres from the Cenotaph eyes fixed on the memorial while behind the sovereign stood her family in a line.

The royal men and women all dressed in military uniforms were the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duke of York, Earl of Wessex, Princess Royal and Duke of Kent, and all stood unmoving as the seconds ticked by.

Close by was Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, opposition leader Ed Miliband, leaders of other parties, High Commissioners from Commonwealth countries and defence chiefs.

The crowds who numbered in their thousands and contained many veterans also watched in silence.

Soldiers from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a round from nearby Horse Guards Parade which echoed around Whitehall to signal the end of the silence.

As the artillery blast faded Buglers of the Royal Marines sounded the haunting melody of The Last Post - which traditionally signalled the end of a soldier's day.

The Queen led the laying of the wreaths and was followed in seniority by the other royals - Philip, Charles, Andrew, Edward, Anne and Prince Edward - the Duke of Kent.

The monarch placed her floral tribute at the base of the monument and took a few steps back and bowed her head while the rest of the royals saluted.

Mr Cameron led the politicians and diplomats in placing floral tributes at the memorial and was followed by many other groups.