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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 November, 2003, 22:58 GMT
Royals attend Remembrance festival
The Queen
The Queen wore a black dress and a rosette of poppies
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have attended the annual Festival of Remembrance to pay tribute to Britain's servicemen and women on Saturday.

They were joined by the Duke of York and the Princess Royal at the high-security event at London's Royal Albert Hall, where all 3,800 seats were filled.

There was a strong police presence - including snipers on the roof and an overhead helicopter - at the event, which was also attended by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Troops stationed in Basra listened in through the British Forces Broadcasting Service.


The Queen was greeted by Lieutenant General Sir Roderick Cordy-Simpson, president of the Royal British Legion (RBL), which organised the event.

Other members of the royal party included the Princess Royal's husband, Commodore Tim Lawrence, Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Mr Blair, his wife Cherie, new Conservative leader Michael Howard, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon sat in boxes either side of the Queen.

The evening's procession of military bands, choirs and musical ensembles was presented by BBC newsreader Huw Edwards.

War widows

Jim Davidson OBE, Chairman of the British Forces Foundation, was honoured for his work entertaining British troops abroad.

He recited Rudyard Kipling's poem On the Road to Mandalay.

A number of short video features - presented by the BBC's Sarah Kennedy - were shown to highlight the work of the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), which is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Footage of British troops in Basra was also shown as representatives of Iraq war widows crossed the hall in silence.

The London Eye
The Poppy Appeal hopes to beat the 21m raised last year
The festival was timed to be as close to Remembrance Sunday as possible.

The Bishop of Manchester, The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, led the religious service, which included hymns and prayers.

Four trumpeters played The Last Post before thousands of poppy petals fell from the ceiling to represent those who lost their lives in combat.

The festival finished as it began, with the singing of the National Anthem.

The Queen was given three cheers and smiled and waved as she left the royal box to applause from the audience.

Meanwhile, the London Eye and a nearby building on the South Bank are being used to highlight Remembrance events over the weekend.

The wheel is basking in a bright red glow while the Shell Centre has also been transformed with images of red poppies tumbling down the side of the building.

Money raised will help pay for work carried out by the RBL which looks after the welfare of ex-servicemen, women and their families.

The legion hopes to raise 22m through its poppy appeal this year.


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