After a two-minute silence and a bugler sounding Last Post, The Prince of Wales began the service by laying a wreath of red roses and bay leaves on the Unknown Warrior’s grave in the Abbey’s nave. The wreath was a replica of that laid by his great-grandfather, King George V, at the original burial service in 1920.
The centenary service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, who said in his bidding: ‘We gather on this holy ground a hundred years after a man, unknown by name or rank, was laid to his final rest in this royal house. The Abbey was crowded that day and so were the surrounding streets. In the aftermath of a great and terrible war a nation gathered in silence, in shock and grief. Here, and on that day, all thoughts of sacrifice, of victory, and of nation gave way, at this graveside, as great crowds acknowledged a very human loss.
‘This grave, on which no foot falls, has since become a place of pilgrimage, a place of honour, and a place where first citizens and very ordinary citizens come to stand in silence, because here words fail us. Here we remember, here we dare to hope, and here we pledge ourselves to reconciliation.
‘On this day of armistice and on this centenary, we gladly recommit ourselves to the duty of remembrance. We will never forget. We pray for all victims of conflict and for those who grieve over them. We pray that we may know peace and be peacemakers. We pray for the coming of that kingdom where we will all be named and known, all forgiven, and all redeemed. We pray, confident that he and we are known unto God.’