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The Royal W: The Cenotaph

Located in the centre of Whitehall, The Cenotaph is the National Memorial to those who died in the first World War. It was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens in 1920 and replaced his matching wood-and-plaster cenotaph erected in 1919 for the Allied Victory Parade. The Cenotaph is a Grade I listed building.


The dates of World War II were added in 1946.

The Portland stone monument is comprised of concave and convex lines to imply the idea of infinity. Inscribed are three words: “The Glorious Dead.”

There are no additional embellishments besides the flags of the three armed services and the Merchant Navy.

All military detachments that pass the Cenotaph salute it. This includes the escort of the Household Cavalry to the regalia at the State Opening of Parliament which customarily pays respects to one.

The Cenotaph derives its name from the Greek words Kenos (meaning empty) and Taphos (meaning tomb).

It is the focal point of Remembrance Sunday. Remembrance services are conducted on Sunday throughout the country. As always, Her Majesty, members of the Royal Family, military and government members will participate in the wreath laying ceremony at The Cenotaph.

The first such ceremony was held on 11 November 1919, following a suggestion by King George V for a two-minute silence across the United Kingdom and a ceremony to take place in London, to commemorate those who had fallen in The Great War (now known as World War I).

Photo Credit: Cindy Stockman 2010

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