Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Tower of London earlier today to view the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppy installation.
The installation, which is composed of 888,246 ceramic poppies, commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and has been an ongoing project since its unveiling on the 5th August this year, exactly one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in World War One.
The Queen and The Duke were greeted by the Constable of the Tower of London, General the Lord Dannatt and Colonel Richard Harrold, Governor of the Tower who performed the ceremonial surrender of their Keys of Office.
Each poppy in the installation represents a British military fatality during the War and the first was planted on the 17th July 2014 by the longest serving of the Tower’s Yeoman Warders. A team of over 16,000 volunteers from across the UK have helped to install the poppies and the last one will be planted on Armistice Day which is the 11th November 2014.
The poppies are each available to purchase for £25 plus postage and packaging, with 10% from each poppy and all net proceeds being shared equally amongst six service charities:
- Confederation of Services Charities
- Combat Stress
- Coming Home
- Help for Heroes
- Royal British Legion
- SSAFA (formerly Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association)
Following their welcome, the Royal party took time to view the thousands of poppies surrounding them and Her Majesty was presented with a wreath by Yeoman Warder, Jim Duncan.
Members of the project team, Colonel John Brown, Deputy Governor of the Tower; Paul Cummins, ceramic artist; designer, Tom Piper and Head of Creative Programming, Deborah Shaw were introduced to The Queen and The Duke.
Paul Cummins, the ceramic artist behind the poppies, was inspired to honour the fallen and his interest in line and form is influenced by a background in architecture, studying at Derby University.
Previously, Paul has created large-scale installations for Chatsworth House, Derby Royal Hospital, the Alscot Estate and Blenheim Palace amongst others.
The designer of the installation, Tom Piper, has been the Associate Designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company since 2004, and was closely involved in the redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
He collaborated with the British Museum and Alan Farlie Architects on the exhibition: ‘Shakespeare: Staging the World’ in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. His awards include an Olivier Award for Costume Design for the Histories Series.
Following their viewing of the installation, the Royal party went into the Chapel of Saint Pater ad Vincula where they were met by senior representatives from the Tower of London and Historic Royal Palaces (HRP).
The Lieutenant of the Tower, Lieutenant General Peter Pearson; Chairman of HRP, Charles Mackay and Chief Executive of HRP, Michael Day accompanied The Queen and The Duke to a service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the restoration and conservation work of the Chapel.
The Chaplain of the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Reverend Canon Roger Hall led the service, at which The Bishop of London, The Rt. Revd and Rt. Hon Richard Chartres also gave an address.
The Chapel Royal dates from the early 1500s and, in order to preserve its historical significance, £1.5million has been raised via the 1535 Society to lift its appearance, tell its stories and improve its functionality as a parish church. The 1535 Society was launched in October 2013 by The Bishop of London and the Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, now Cardinal, to raise awareness and funds for the Chapel appeal.
Many of the historic monuments in the Chapel have been painstakingly cleaned following analysis and research and all furniture has been replaced with new bespoke items. The area functions as a meeting space for the local community and youth groups in addition to the normal wedding and baptism services.
Her Majesty and The Duke viewed the work undertaken in the Chapel’s Crypt of St Thomas More, which is a site of pilgrimage for Catholics worldwide. The Crypt has undergone redecoration works and re-ordered to make it a space for small groups to learn about St Thomas More’s story.
Before departing around midday, five-year-old Ashlynne Kingshott presented The Queen with a posy of flowers.
For more information on the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppy installation, please visit the Tower of London website.
Image Credits: James Brookes / Royal Central