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King George V and the Cenotaph

The Cenotaph in Whitehall is one of the most recognisable war memorials in the world and King George V played a significant role in its unveiling in 1920.

In 1919, Sir Edwin Lutyens designed a temporary wood and plaster monument to mark those who had died in the Great War. The King sent a wreath to be placed on the temporary Cenotaph at an 18 July 1919 ceremony, though he did not attend. 

After the Cenotaph was positively received by the public everywhere, plans began immediately to have it created in stone. Holland, Hannen, & Cubitts were chosen to create it. 

The permanent Cenotaph is made of Portland stone and is roughly eleven metres high. At a ceremony on 11 November 1920, King George V unveiled the monument at exactly 11:00 A.M. He then placed a wreath of roses onto the coffin of the Unknown Soldier before it was buried at Westminster Abbey. 

King George V would continue to place a wreath on the Cenotaph at Remembrance Day ceremonies, and King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II, and King Charles III would carry on this tradition. 

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