Prince Harry and Meghan Markle steered away from Remembrance Sunday tradition by laying a poppy-less wreath to honour fallen soldiers.
The pair laid an all-green wreath during a private visit to a cemetery in California, after the Duke of Sussex was refused his wish for a wreath to be placed on his behalf at the Cenotaph in London.
The tribute was placed by the pair at an obelisk in Los Angeles National Cemetery, while they also placed flowers in memory of two fallen Commonwealth soldiers.
However the wreath, which featured a variety of green plants, did not feature a poppy.
The poppy is the traditional symbol of Remembrance in the UK and many Commonwealth countries – having featured in the John McCrae 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.
However, Americans typically wear poppies on the last Monday of May – known as Memorial Day – instead using November 11 for Veterans Day, when living veterans are honoured.
Harry and Meghan’s green wreath appears to be more in line with wreaths which are laid beside the graves of servicemen and women in America in the lead up to Christmas.
Meanwhile, critics have hit out at the pair for enlisting fashion photographer Lee Morgan to release pictures from the moment they ‘personally recognised’ fallen servicemen and women.
However, people close to Harry have defended the former royal, saying that the Duke’s military family ‘is one of the most important things to him and always will be.’
Those close to Harry said he was not the sort of person to make a stunt out of a Remembrance event, particularly having personally known fellow service personnel who died.
‘If you listen to the podcast that he did at the weekend, he talks about wearing the poppy and wanting to recognise Remembrance Sunday, not only for all those people historically, but also for the people he knew that he lost,’ they said.
‘I don’t think that’s someone who does something like Remembrance Sunday as a publicity stunt.
‘It’s probably not surprising that having served on the front line, having done tours of duty, having been in the military for 10 years, having created Invictus, supported Walking with the Wounded and all others, that the military community, the military family, is probably one of the most important things to the duke and will always be so.’
The first poppies were made in 1921 after a French woman, Anna Guérin, met Earl Haig, founder of the Royal British Legion, and persuaded him to adopt the poppy as an emblem for the Legion in the UK.
The wreath that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle laid at Los Angeles National Cemetery on Remembrance Sunday
The pair yesterday placed a green wreath – without the traditional poppy – at an obelisk in Los Angeles National Cemetery and placed flowers in memory of two fallen Commonwealth soldiers
Prince Harry signed a message with the wreath he left at the cemetery saying: ‘To all of those who have served, and are serving. Thank you’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured during a private visit to the Los Angeles National Cemetery on Remembrance Sunday
‘In Flanders Field’: The poem that led the hardy poppy to become a symbol of remembrance
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was a Canadian Army doctor who was helping on the Western Front at Ypres when his friend, 22-year-old Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed by a German Shell in 1915.
So affected by his loss, McCrae began to write:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Not only were McCrae’s words later immortalised, but they sparked the beginning of the corn poppy as the symbol of remembrance of those who die in battle.
McCrae did not live to see the Remembrance Poppy his words would inspire, falling victim to influenza in January 1918.
To honour him, comrades searched fields for poppies to lay on his grave but, in the dead of winter, found none.
So they ordered artificial poppies to be made in Paris and woven into a wreath.
The poppy was later taken on when American school teacher Moina Michael, inspired by the words of McCrae, went out to buy poppies as a symbol of remembrance.
But there were no real ones to be found — only silk poppies in a department store.
She bought 25, pinned one to her coat and handed the rest out back in the office.
After the war, she campaigned for it to be used as a symbol of remembrance for American who had died in the war in France.
French widow Anna Guérin, inspired by Miss Michael’s actions, co-ordinated war widows in France to create the poppies to sell to raise money for injured soldiers.
The poppies were later adopted by the Royal British Legion, after she met and inspired its founder Earl Haig.
Today the poppy is still the RBL’s symbol, while in the UK poppy wreaths are laid each year at war memorial sites across the country to mark Remembrance Sunday.
Poppies are also worn in Canada, France, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand every November 11 (known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day) to commemorate the anniversary of the 1918 armistice.
Americans typically wear poppies on the last Monday of May – known as Memorial Day – instead using November 11 for Veterans Day, when living veterans are honoured.
Ms Guerin had been inspired by the actions of American schoolteacher Moina Michael, who had campaigned for the poppy to become a symbol for US soldiers who had died in France and had pinned a silk poppy to her coat.
Miss Michael had in-turn been inspired by the 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Canadian Army doctor John McCrae – who noted the growing corn poppies amongst the turned-up battlefields of France.
Poppies are still the symbol of the Royal British Legion today, while poppy wreaths are traditionally laid each year on war memorials up and down the country on Remembrance Sunday.
Along with their green wreath, Harry and Meghan laid flowers in memory of the Ronald William Scott, a Leading Aircraftman in the Royal Australian Air Force who died in the Second World War, aged just 22.
They also visited the grave of Captain William Quayle Setliffe Sr, who served in the First World War, before dying on Christmas Day in 1946 at the age of 61. He served with the Royal Canadian Artillery.
Harry, who spent 10 years in the armed forces, was pictured wearing a navy suit with his service medals attached, while Meghan wore a long belted black coat.
The flowers were picked by Meghan from the garden of their $14 million Santa Barbara mansion.
The pair wore masks on the way to the cemetery, though they were pictured without them when they reached the graves.
It comes after Harry was said to have been refused permission for a wreath to be laid at the Cenotaph on his behalf today, in the latest sign of a family rift.
The Queen was not thought to have been informed of the request or its refusal, which is said to have ‘deeply saddened’ the Duke of Sussex, the Times said.
It later emerged that Harry’s wreath was made at the Royal British Legion’s Kent HQ for £1,000, but lay there forgotten yesterday.
A spokesman for the RBL told Mail Online Royal wreaths are made in advance of the Remembrance period and ‘not to specific requests, then stored for later use.’
A spokesman for the couple said: ‘It was important to the duke and duchess to be able to personally recognise Remembrance in their own way, to pay tribute to those who have served and to those who gave their lives,’ a statement said.
‘The couple laid flowers that the duchess picked from their garden at the gravesites of two commonwealth soldiers, one who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force and one from the Royal Canadian Artillery.’
The statement said they also placed a wreath at an obelisk in the cemetery.
‘The duke signed a message with the wreath saying: ‘To all of those who have served, and are serving. Thank you’.’
Prince Harry emphasised the importance of Remembrance Sunday during an appearance on a military podcast to mark the event, which airs today.
On the interview with the Declassified podcast, he described the day as ‘a moment for respect and for hope’.
The former royal said: ‘The act of remembering, of remembrance, is a profound act of honour. It’s how we preserve the legacies of entire generations and show our gratitude for the sacrifices they made in order for us to be able to live the lives we live today.’
In previous years, the duke has marked the day with visits to the Cenotaph and Westminster Abbey’s Field of Remembrance – he first attended the cenotaph in 2009 aged 25.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, also did not attend.
It comes after Harry was reportedly refused permission for a wreath to be laid at the Cenotaph on his behalf today
They also placed a wreath at an obelisk in the cemetery that features a plaque that’s inscribed ‘In Memory of the Men Who Offered Their Lives in Deference of Their Country’
Prince William and Prince Charles attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London
Members of the public had been told not to go to the memorial for the wreath laying because of strict lockdown restrictions
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on whether Prince Harry’s request had been refused.
Prince Harry’s representatives have been contacted for comment.
During the podcast, Harry also spoke about his experiences and said he cherishes his relationship with veterans, describing coming together as ‘like meeting an old mate’.
He added: ‘I wear the poppy to recognise all those who have served; the soldiers I knew, as well as those I didn’t.
Couple used photographer who’s worked with Vogue and Kayne West’s brand Yeezy ‘to turn Remembrance Sunday into ‘publicity stunt’
Photographer Lee Morgan
The couple were accompanied by one of their new favourite personal photographers Lee Morgan, as they ‘personally recognised’ fallen Commonwealth soldiers by visiting the Los Angeles National cemetery yesterday.
The Afro-American and Brazilian photographer, who specialises in ‘fashion and celebrity portraiture’, has worked with a string of exclusive clients since launching his career aged 18, including Vogue, Adidas and Bloomingdales.
LA-based Mr Morgan has also worked with fashion designers Rick Owens, Alexandre Plokhov and rapper Kanye West‘s brand Yeezy.
Mr Morgan is a trilingual photographer and filmmaker, who says on his LinkedIn page he enjoys ‘collaborating with artists and creatives from diverse cultural backgrounds and contributing my time to great teams with great ideas.’
The Queen watched from above the Cenotaph for the National Service of Remembrance and kept a close eye on proceedings
On a neighbouring balcony Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, observed the moving service in central London yesterday
In previous years, the duke has marked the day with visits to the Cenotaph and Westminster Abbey’s Field of Remembrance. Pictured: The Duke laying a wreath on Anzac day in 2016
Prince Harry (pictured left at the West Point Military Academy in America in 2010 and right during a shift in Afghanistan in 2012), who spent 10 years in the armed forces, described the day as ‘a moment for respect and for hope’, in an interview with the Declassified podcast
The Remembrance Sunday ceremony takes place at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 8, 2020
Prince Harry prepares to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, on Whitehall, Westminster, London, during the annual Remembrance Sunday service, Sunday November 8, 2009
Harry and Meghan pay tribute to servicemen
The gravestone in memory of Aircraftman Ronald William Scott
The couple laid flowers in memory of the Ronald William Scott, a Leading Aircraftman in the Royal Australian Air Force.
The Aircraftman died in the Second World War, aged just 22.
Ronald was born on November 20, 1921, and killed in an accident on February 12, 1944.
His name is located at panel 133 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial.
Harry and Meghan also visited the grave of CPT William Quayle Setliffe Sr.
The Captain was born on July 30, 1885 and served in the First World War, before dying on Christmas Day in 1946 at the age of 61.
He served with the Royal Canadian Artillery.
Harry and Meghan visited the grave of Cpt William Quayle Setliffe Sr
Captain William Quayle Setliffe Sr
‘The soldiers who were by my side in Afghanistan, those who had their lives changed forever, and those that didn’t come home.
‘I wear it to celebrate the bravery and determination of all our veterans, and their loved ones, especially those in our Invictus family.
‘These are the people and moments I remember when I salute, when I stand at attention and when I lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.’
Harry created the Invictus Games in 2014 for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans from around the world to compete in a range of sports.
The Duke of Sussex, who now lives in the United States with his wife Meghan and their son Archie, said: ‘Even when we can’t all be together, we always remember together.’
On the podcast, which documents stories from the military community, the duke also spoke about his own service which included two tours of Afghanistan.
He said: ‘When I get asked about this period of my life I draw from memories, I draw from what I remember and who I remember.
‘Like the first time we were shot at and who I was with, the casualties we saw, and those we saved. And the first medivac we escorted out of contact in a race against time.
‘Once served always serving, no matter what.
‘Being able to wear my uniform, being able to stand up in service of one’s country, these are amongst the greatest honours there are in life.
‘To me, the uniform is a symbol of something much bigger, it’s symbolic of our commitment to protecting our country, as well as protecting our values.
‘These values are put in action through service, and service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos.’
Services for Remembrance Sunday this year were greatly impacted due to the pandemic, with a full lockdown in England and other restrictions in place across the UK.
The UK Government has this year encouraged councils to ensure remembrance services are short, entirely outdoors and held in front of limited numbers.
However, people still turned out to pay their respects, leading to unpleasant clashes with police.
A video circulated online which appeared to show a military piper being shoved to the ground by a Metropolitan police officer.
The piper, identified by the cameraman as a veteran, appeared to march at the police barricade being guarded by masked Met police officers.
In the video, an officer then seemed to shove the piper away from the line and the man stumbled backwards before falling to the ground.
The incident, which took place in Whitehall this afternoon, sparked outrage among the demonstrators who had gathered to mark Remembrance Sunday but were barred from attending the service at the Cenotaph which was closed to the public.
Members of the crowd began shouting at the officer calling him ‘a disgrace’ and ‘disgusting’ before the man who was shoved to the ground begins addressing the small crowd.
The unidentified uniformed piper says: ‘I tried in my speech down the road to support the Metropolitan Police – I did.
Britain’s Prince William, right, Prince Harry, centre, and Prince Andrew, left, attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in London on November 8, 2015
Prince Charles and Prince William represented the Royal Family at the service today, while Prince Harry remained in Los Angeles
Dozens of protestors began hurling abuse at the officers after the incident as the piper confronted the officer who shoved him
The incident sparked outrage among the small crowd of veterans who had gathered as the piper confronted the police officer
The footage shows one officer shove the piper away which causes him to stumble backwards before he falls to the floor
A video has been shared online showing a military piper, pictured, apparently being shoved to the ground after marching directly at a line of police who were barring members of the public from attending the private service at the Cenotaph
Footage showed the piper turn and march directly at a line of masked police officers before he was shoved to the ground
‘And what do we get? They attack us. This is a police state. What do we get from them? Violence. Violence. They’re the violent ones.’
Other bystanders can be heard urging the police to ‘take a knee for the fallen’ and yelling ‘this is Germany’ in apparent outrage at the incident.
The piper’s reference to a speech down the road appears to be a reference to an earlier video shared on Twitter.
In the video, the piper was filmed shouting at the police, saying: ‘We have the workers of state barricading us from showing our respects for our fallen comrades.
‘I didn’t come here for a fight – I’ve done enough of that in the past – and no one else did.
‘We’ve come here to respect our friends, brothers in arms and also the fallen that we didn’t even know.
And yet the state, the state, the state tells us that we cannot!’
While the Queen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other members of Government and the Royal family held a private service at the Cenotaph this morning, the public were unable to attend because of lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pre-booked visitors stand at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas where a virtual Act of Remembrance from the Armed Forces Memorial will be broadcast
Chaplins, veterans and soldiers at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, earlier today
Last year: Serving servicemen and veterans gather at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, near Fort William, for Remembrance Sunday, 2019. Far smaller crowds are seen this year
Groups across the UK held their own memorials alongside the scaled-down annual National Service of Remembrance in London. Pictured: A service at Spean Bridge, Scotland
Britons gathered by a memorial in Seaham, County Durham, on Remembrance Sunday. Some wore protective face masks
In Seaham, County Durham, huge crowds gathered of a memorial service – with the fog-filled sky and dreary weather providing a sombre backdrop
In Seaham, Britons stood together as they remembered those who have lost their lives in the First World War
A veteran places a cross on a memorial statue in Seaham, County Durham, during a Remembrance Sunday memorial
Over 200 military veterans and members of the public observed the minute silence for Remembrance Sunday in Glasgow
Millions of people across the UK instead privately paid their respects from home, while others did head to their local war memorials for socially-distanced ceremonies.
At the Cenotaph, around 10,000 veterans would normally pay their respects, but this year there were just 26 because of the risks presented by Covid-19.
The barricade was later removed after official ceremonial proceedings had been completed and the public were allowed to approach the Cenotaph which was still being guarded by a handful of officers.
A spokesman for the Met Police said: ‘Police are aware of a video circulating online which shows an officer using force after a man had tried to enter a restricted area in Whitehall SW1.
‘The actions of the officer will be looked at in the wider context of this incident.
‘The man had previously been asked to wait while the restricted area was opened up and he would be able to attend the Cenotaph.
‘The road had been closed off as the Remembrance Sunday event this year was a closed ceremony due to Covid restrictions.
‘The area has since been opened up and members of the public can now go on their way.’