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Monday, November 10, 1997 Published at 00:03 GMT


Festival of Remembrance spans the generations

HRH The Queen led the royal tribute

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales have led members of the Royal Family at a public tribute to Britain's war dead at the annual Festival of Remembrance.

Tony and Cherie Blair were also in the Royal Box for the traditional evening of military bands and elaborate and emotional displays.

Thousands were at London's Royal Albert Hall, and millions more across Britain watched television coverage of the event.

The Queen, wearing a black velvet dress with a poppy, was welcomed to the hall by Air Marshal Sir Roger Austin, national president of the Royal British Legion, organiser of the annual event.

[ image: Thousands of poppy petals representing the war dead]
Thousands of poppy petals representing the war dead
She was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Royal and Captain Timothy Laurence.

The Prince of Wales arrived moments before in his first public engagement since arriving back in Britain on Thursday from his successful tour of southern Africa.

He showed his clear intention to continue the good relations with the media established on that tour, smiling happily for the cameras before going upstairs to the Royal Box.

The Queen Mother was not present, for the fourth year in succession.

Her private office at Clarence House had avoided committing her to going. Last year she had a cold, the previous year she was about to go into hospital for her hip operation and on the previous two occasions she had colds.

Also in the Royal Box were the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Sir Angus Ogilvy, the Duke of York and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

[ image: Chelsea Pensioners joined hundreds of other servicemen and women]
Chelsea Pensioners joined hundreds of other servicemen and women
The Prime Minister and his wife arrived at the same entrance as the Royals. Cherie was wearing a dark brown dress with a large poppy.

The festival culminated, as every year, in a moving two-minute silence as thousands of poppy petals drifted down on the hundreds of participants including Chelsea pensioners, serving soldiers and schoolchildren

Just before the start of the final Service of Remembrance, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were given a special surprise, with an unpublished addition to the programme of a musical tribute to mark their Golden Wedding anniversary this month.

[ image: Michelle Forde: surprise performance of song to mark the Queen's Golden Wedding anniversary]
Michelle Forde: surprise performance of song to mark the Queen's Golden Wedding anniversary
The couple beamed with pleasure from the Royal Box as a 19-year-old Michelle Forde, a musician with the Royal Marines band service, sang the specially composed song.

The words and music, "Tribute to Her Majesty the Queen", were written for this year's Edinburgh Tattoo by Warrant Officer Michael McDermott, 42, a musical arranger with the Royal Marines.

It was performed at Edinburgh before audiences of 8,000 on more than 20 occasions.

Michelle Forde, who joined the Royal Marines band service as an oboist in September last year, repeated her performance in the Royal Albert Hall with a hand held microphone in front of the massed bands of the Royal Marines Portsmouth, the Guards Division and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

[ image: The Queen: delighted by the song]
The Queen: delighted by the song
"We bring you warmth and affection in this golden year," she sang, directly facing the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. As the song ended, the Queen joined in the deafening applause from nearly 5,000 people in the hall.

Afterwards, the principal director of music for the Royal Marines, Lt-Col Richard Waterer, said: "This will have been the first time the Queen has heard the song. It was such a success at Edinburgh that we thought we ought to repeat the tribute tonight in front of Her Majesty."

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