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Queen Elizabeth II’s poignant tribute in the most trying of times

In a year when traditional remembrance for those who have given their lives for their country was made difficult by the pandemic, Queen Elizabeth II made one of the most poignant gestures of her reign. Her Late Majesty placed a floral tribute on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior ahead of Remembrance Day, standing at the grave with a soldier who stood apart from her, as pandemic restrictions demanded. The flowers held a special meaning for Her Late Majesty left a replica of her wedding bouquet on the grave as she paid her respects there just hours before lockdown.

It was a nod to a tradition followed by brides from the House of Windsor for almost a century and held a special link to her own parents. For it was the Queen Mother, then Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who began the tribute when she laid her bouquet on the grave as she made her way into Westminster Abbey to marry Albert, Duke of York, later King George VI.

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Queen Elizabeth II visited the Abbey on November 4th 2020 to pay her respects. Her visit also marked the 100th anniversary of the interment of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster, an even overseen by her beloved grandfather, King George V.

The soldier represents the many thousands who died during the Great War between 1914 and 1918.  Queen Elizabeth II’s flowers were laid on the stone above him which bears the words ‘’They buried him among the kings because he had done good to God and toward his House.’’

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This special floral tribute contained a selection of orchids as well as a sprig of the myrtle traditionally used in royal wedding bouquets. Her Late Majesty stood for a moment in thought as she laid her hand on the flowers before her equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah of the Household Cavalry, placed them on the Tomb.

Her late Majesty’s visit to Westminster Abbey was her final engagement before lockdown. On Remembrance Sunday itself, she led the Royal Family in tributes to all those who have given their lives for their country as she watched a special service at the Cenotaph from a balcony overlooking Whitehall. Her eldest son, Charles, laid the wreath on behalf of the nation.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.