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Sunday, November 14, 1999 Published at 04:16 GMT


Remembrance Day honour

Prince Charles was the first to lay his wreath

Prince Charles has led the nation's remembrance at the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in London honouring fallen war heroes.

The prince, on his 51st birthday, placed his wreath of poppies at the monument, followed by Prince Andrew, who served in the Falklands War in 1982. The Queen normally heads the ceremony but she is in South Africa as part of a four-nation tour.

BBC News' Jennie Bond reports on the final Remembrance Sunday of the century
Princess Anne then also laid her wreath, and saluted before a tribute by the Duke of Kent. His father was killed during a flying accident with the RAF in 1942.

The Queen mother's wreath was laid for her, as she has a chill and is unable to attend.

Earlier the Queen and Prince Philip each laid a wreath in Durban.

In London senior politicians including Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Opposition leader William Hague and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy also paid their respects with wreaths.

[ image: The Queen at the ceremony in Durban]
The Queen at the ceremony in Durban
And Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who is at a crucial stage in trying to negotiate peace in Northern Ireland, also paid tribute to the dead.

Prime Minister Tony Blair attended another ceremony at a leisure centre in George, South Africa, with other leaders of the Commonwealth summit.

Following the traditional two minutes' silence, first held 80 years ago, the Bishop of London gave a short service.

The national anthem followed, and the dignitaries then made a slow procession from the monument. Several hundred ex-servicemen, many in wheelchairs, filed past the Prince of Wales, who was dressed in Royal Navy uniform.

Before the ceremony, cannon were fired and Big Ben chimed as representatives from the armed forces and the church formed a solemn parade to the monument.

They were followed by senior politicians including former prime ministers Lady Thatcher, Edward Heath and John Major.

[ image: Wrens remembered women who aided the war effort]
Wrens remembered women who aided the war effort
Marking 50 years of the Commonwealth were 47 High Commissioners, whose countries' inhabitants fought alongside the UK in the war effort.

Although the Queen was unable to attend the ceremony, she took part in a sombre service two hours earlier in Durban.

She and the Duke of Edinburgh heard Jewish, Muslim and Hindu prayers, and a woman Methodist minister, Darene Jordaan, read the Christian prayers.

After the ceremony, the Queen and Prince Philip walked to the nearby St Paul's Anglican Church to worship.

[ image: Thousands of people gathered in Whitehall]
Thousands of people gathered in Whitehall
As they passed the thousands of people lining the streets hoping for a glimpse of the royal couple, the Queen said: "It's too hot to be standing around waiting for me."

Services are being held the length and breadth of the UK on Sunday. But not all the ceremonies ran smoothly.

Veterans remembering their lost colleagues in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear used the ceremony to protest at war pension taxes.

Around 60 veterans refused a salute from city mayor Ross Wares, because the local authority counts war pensions when considering council tax and rebates.

Sunderland City Council maintains it cannot afford not to tax war pensions, but the pensioners say the situation is "scandalous".

And after the official ceremonies in London, it is expected that gay rights group Outrage! will hold a march at the Cenotaph.

They will lay pink triangle wreaths in honour of the estimated 500,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual people who served in the armed forces during the Second World War.

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