UK

King unveils statue of his mother at Festival of Remembrance

Members of the royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (back left), Prince and Princess of Wales, the King and the Queen, and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence with the Princess Royal (back right) during the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance attend the Royal Albert Hall in London (Chris Radburn/PA)
Members of the royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (back left), Prince and Princess of Wales, the King and the Queen, and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence with the Princess Royal (back right) during the annual Royal British Legion Festival o Members of the royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (back left), Prince and Princess of Wales, the King and the Queen, and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence with the Princess Royal (back right) during the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance attend the Royal Albert Hall in London (Chris Radburn/PA)

The King and Queen unveiled statues of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh as they arrived for the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday.

The life-sized bronze artworks, commemorating the former Queen and her husband’s dedication to the concert hall, were installed as part of its 150th anniversary.

Charles and Camilla were later accompanied at the festival by nine other members of the royal family, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent.

Armistice Day 2023
Armistice Day 2023 Charles unveiled a statue of his mother (Maja Smieskowska/PA)

As they took their seats, Charles was seen waving to the packed hall.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak observed the event from a box to the left of the royals alongside his wife Akshata Murty while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sat in a separate box to the right with his wife Lady Victoria.

Charles and Camilla were seen clapping at various points during the event including at the arrival of the Chelsea Pensioners.

Hosting the annual Royal British Legion event, Clare Balding said that servicemen and women who have lost their lives are “kept alive with our words, our memories, our tributes”.

There were performances from British soul singer Mica Paris, pop star Calum Scott, Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery and tenor Alfie Boe, who performed Bring Him Home.

The Princess Royal led a tribute to those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest military campaign of the Second World War.

This year’s Festival of Remembrance marked 80 years since the battle, which saw around 65,000 seaman lose their lives.

Armistice Day 2023
Armistice Day 2023 Charles waved to the audience as he took his seat (Chris Jackson/PA)

Other tributes at the festival included to the bereaved who have lost loved ones through military service.

Footage marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean war was shown, with contributions from people who had served.

There were also tributes to the Windrush generation and their contribution to the British armed forces, marking the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush’s arrival in the UK.

It included a performance of Something Inside by Mica Paris, who dedicated it to her Caribbean grandparents who came to Britain on the Windrush.

British DJ duo Sigma performed and were accompanied by the inclusive dance group, Stopgap Dance Company, to mark the contribution of the Invictus Games.

The royals joined the crowd to sing Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind after the remembrance book, containing the names of British war dead, was brought into the centre of the hall.

It was carried by petty officer Stuart Jones and his family, accompanied by recently reunited Royal Navy families.

The event ended with the crowd singing God Save The King followed by three cheers after which Charles waved to the crowd who applauded as he left with the other royals.

Armistice Day 2023
Armistice Day 2023 The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive (Chris Jackson/PA)

On Sunday, Charles will lead the nation in remembrance at the Cenotaph following a day of violent clashes in central London between counter-protesters and police, who attempted to stop them from interfering with a major pro-Palestinian march.

The Prime Minister said the ugly scenes on Armistice Day “utterly disrespects” the spirit of remembrance as police confirmed 126 arrests with nine officers injured.

Rishi Sunak will meet Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley in the coming days to hold him “accountable” for the handling of the disturbances.

Scuffles broke out as police attempted to stop a crowd of people carrying St George’s flags marching along Embankment towards Whitehall, where the Cenotaph is located, shortly after 10am.

On Tachbrook Street, Pimlico, 82 people were arrested when a “large group” of counter-protesters tried to reach the march, the Met said, while a breakaway group of around 150 people from the march, who were firing fireworks and wearing face coverings, were later detained in Grosvenor Place.