The Queen wore a face mask for the first time in public last week as she marked the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior in a small private ceremony in Westminster Abbey.
Her Majesty, 94, honoured the British serviceman, whose identity remains a mystery, and the Royal Family‘s own associations with World War One at the London abbey ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
The head of state, who was dressed all in black as she placed an orchid and myrtle bouquet on the grave, was required to cover her face during the act of worship under government restrictions.
It reflected the custom of Royal bridal bouquets being placed on the grave, a tradition which began in 1923 when Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, laid her bouquet as she entered the Abbey in memory of her brother Fergus, who was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.
Many Royal brides since have sent their bouquets to the grave at Westminster Abbey.
Before her death in 2002, The Queen Mother also requested her funeral wreath be placed on the grave of the Unknown Warrior – a wish honoured at the Abbey the day after her funeral.
Tribute: The Queen commemmorates the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior, an unidentified British serviceman who died in WW1, in Westminster Abbey on Wednesday
Paying her respects: The Dean of Westminster Abbey David Hoyle (right) watches as The Queen’s Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior in front of the Queen in Westminster Abbey
Commemoration: The Queen inspects a bouquet of flowers to be placed at the grave of the Unknown Warrior by her Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah
Paying her respects: The Queen, 94, travelled by car from Windsor Castle to London to commemorate the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior, according to the Court Circular. The Queen was photographed leaving Windsor Castle yesterday (pictured) before returning two hours later but the reason for the outing was not announced
Tribute: Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey
Paying respects: The Queen’s Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of the Queen during a ceremony at Westminster Abbey
Tribute: The Queen inspects a bouquet of flowers placed on her behalf at the grave of the Unknown Warrior by her Equerry
Which Royal bridal bouquets were laid on the grave of the Unknown Warrior?
- The Queen Mother, 1923
- The Queen, 1947
- Princess Margaret, 1960
- Princess Alexandra, 1963
- The Princess Royal, 1973
- Diana, Princess of Wales, 1981
- Sarah, Duchess of York, 1986
- The Countess of Wessex, 1999
- The Duchess of Cornwall, 2005
- The Duchess of Cambridge, 2011
- The Duchess of Sussex, 2018
- Princess Eugenie, 2018
- Princess Beatrice, 2020
During the ceremony this week, Her Majesty also joined the Dean of Westminster in prayers and a moment of reflection after the bouquet was laid on the grave, before The Queen’s Piper played a lament, The Flowers of the Forest.
The grave of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified British serviceman who died on the battlefields during the First World War. The serviceman’s body was brought from Northern France and buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920 after a procession through Whitehall.
The Queen’s grandfather, King George V, placed a wreath on the coffin at the Cenotaph, which was unveiled on the processional route.
His Majesty later dropped a handful of earth from France onto the serviceman’s coffin as it was lowered into the grave at the Abbey.
He was joined at the burial by his son, the future King George VI.
The Unknown Warrior became an important symbol of mourning for bereaved families, representing all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was not known, or whose bodies remained unidentified. It remains a solemn tribute to all service personnel who have lost their lives in combat.
The Queen was photographed leaving Windsor Castle on Wednesday before returning two hours later, where it is understood she is now self-isolating with husband Prince Philip, 99.
She looked sombre in a black ensemble, typically only worn while in mourning, attending a funeral, or for Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday services.
The Court Circular for November 4 reads: ‘The Queen this morning commemorated the Centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, London SW1, and was received at the Great West Door by the Dean of Westminster (the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle).’
Tribute: The Queen pays tribute to the Unknown Warrior while her Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, carries a bouquet of flowers to place at his grave
Tribute: The Unknown Soldier was buried at Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1920 but lockdown restrictions mean commemorations had to take place in advance. File image
The Queen’s Piper plays during a ceremony in London’s Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen last week
Royal commemorations: The Duchess of Cornwall also carried out an engagement at Westminster Abbey yesterday, standing in for Prince Harry to visit the Field of Remembrance
Sporting a poppy facemask, Camilla, 73, honoured the servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives for their country and stood in solemn silence as the Last Post was played
This tradition was first completed by the Queen Mother when she married King George VI in 1923. Pictured is Princess Beatrice’s wedding bouquet on the grave earlier this year
The Queen has carried out only a handful of engagements since March and is expected to keep a low profile over the next month as she and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, spend lockdown together at Windsor Castle.
The Duchess of Cornwall also carried out an engagement at Westminster Abbey yesterday, standing in for Prince Harry to visit the Field of Remembrance.
She then stood in front of crosses from the Graves of the Unknown as the Dean offered prayers, before solemnly laying her own cross of remembrance and bowing her head in reflection.
A bugler played the Last Post, followed by a two-minute silence, and then Exhortation to Remembrance, as Big Ben chimed at 2pm.
Afterwards the duchess toured the 308 plots filled with more than 60,000 crosses and symbols of all faiths, laid by staff and volunteers, with Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis, President of The Poppy Factory.
Remembrance Sunday services, which are traditionally part of communal worship, cannot go ahead as planned on November 8 due to lockdown restrictions
However, rather than being banned entirely the Government has set out a series of guidelines for local authorities and faith leaders hoping to hold the services.