Queen and Princess Anne attends service to mark Poppy Appeal founders Royal British Legion's centenary - as Her Majesty relies on walking stick for comfort

For a century, it has both raised millions of pounds to support veterans and led the nation in acts of remembrance and reflection to honour the fallen.

And yesterday as the Royal British Legion marked its centenary with a service at Westminster Abbey, The Queen paid tribute by attending alongside the Princess Royal.

In a rare sight that showed her age, the 95-year-old monarch entered the Abbey on a walking stick.

She was handed the stick after stepping out of her state limousine, and appeared to be moving freely as she walked to her seat for the start of the service, and she used the stick again as she left.

In a rare sight that showed her age, the 95-year-old monarch entered the Abbey on a walking stick. Photo: Getty

The Queen, who is the Royal British Legion’s patron, did not arrive by the traditional Great West Door but via the Poet’s Yard entrance, which offers a shorter route to her seat.

Both developments are understood to have been tailored for the Queen’s comfort. Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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In his address during the service, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend David Hoyle, celebrated the Royal British Legion’s ability to stitch “together our shattered experience” and make us “whole”, and said it has become the bridge between ordinary men and women and those “who have been set apart by serving in the forces”.

He also questioned whether the tendency of crowds to cheer departing troops but be absent when the wounded returned meant “if we will really learn lessons from this pandemic” or give in to the voices “that want to turn the page”.

Retired Lieutenant General James Bashall, the Royal British Legion’s national president, took part in a re-dedication, reaffirming the charity’s commitment to its work, and Princess Anne gave a reading from the Bible.

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, and Victoria Cross hero Colour Sergeant Johnson Beharry also gave readings.

The charity was founded on May 15 1921 and brought together four national organisations established to care for military personnel and their families after the First World War.

The physical injuries of the returning servicemen were not the only issues that needed addressing. Some men found it difficult to find work, which left their dependants in need.

The Royal British Legion is also famous for its annual poppy appeal, which encourages public donations in return for the red flower worn in memory.

The Dean told the congregation: “The Legion stands between us and the men and women who have been set apart by serving in the forces. The Legion knows the reality of what that is.

“The Legion remembers truths that some would urge us to forget. The Legion speaks into our silence. The Legion stitches back together our shattered experience and makes us whole.”