The Queen has been ordered by doctors to cancel all public engagements and rest for at least another two weeks.
The 95-year-old will not undertake any official visits and will be confined to ‘light, desk-based’ duties only.
She will miss the traditional Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 13, but has vowed to attend the service at the Cenotaph the following day.
Royal sources said last night that Her Majesty views the occasion as ‘unmissable’ and as one of her ‘most sacred duties’.
Aides insisted that the Queen was in ‘good spirits’ and stressed that her medical team were simply taking ‘sensible precautions’.
In fact, earlier in the day she was well enough to record her video message to be played at the opening of the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow on Monday.
But the latest announcement is unlikely to calm public concern over the monarch’s health. It will be one of the longest, and most significant, absences as a result of ill health during her reign.
It comes after she was secretly taken to hospital for a night last week. The Palace has still not explained the reason for that admission, with royal aides saying only that it was for ‘preliminary investigations’.
Since last appearing in public nearly two weeks ago, the Queen has only carried out virtual engagements, with the latest coming yesterday when she virtually presented English poet David Constantine – who was at Buckingham Palace – with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
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Her Majesty has been recuperating at Windsor Castle for the past ten days following her stay in hospital last week. In a statement, Buckingham Palace said Her Majesty could still undertake some light duties including virtual audiences
Since last appearing in public nearly two weeks ago, the Queen has only carried out virtual engagements, with the latest coming yesterday when she virtually presented English poet David Constantine – who was at Buckingham Palace – with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry
The Queen’s health over the years as she is advised to rest for two weeks
The Queen is known for her strong constitution and no-fuss approach to her infrequent illnesses.
Her doctors have recommended she continue to rest for the next two weeks following the 95-year-old monarch’s overnight stay at King Edward VII’s Hospital earlier this month, which was her first in eight years.
She was treated at the private clinic for a nasty bout of gastroenteritis in 2013, when she also stayed for one night.
The sovereign was recently seen using a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service in early October, the first time she has done so at a major event.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Queen retreated to Windsor Castle for her safety, where she was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh in lockdown.
The couple were vulnerable to Covid-19 because of their advanced age, but were protected by the so-called HMS Bubble, their reduced household of about 20 staff.
On January 9 2021, the then 94-year-old Queen and the 99-year-old duke received their coronavirus vaccinations, with Buckingham Palace taking the rare step of confirming what would usually have been a private medical matter, as the national rollout of the injections gathered pace.
Philip had heart surgery in March 2021, but returned to Windsor where he died a few weeks later in his sleep at the age of 99.
In January 2020, the Queen missed her annual visit to the Sandringham Women’s Institute due to a slight cold.
The year she turned 90, the monarch called time on her overseas travels, leaving long-haul destinations to the younger members of her family, but she still maintains a busy diary of events.
The monarch still rides her Fell ponies at Windsor, and drives, mainly around her private estates.
The Queen missed the christening of her great-grandson Prince Louis in July 2018 but not because of illness.
It was mutually agreed in advance by the monarch and the Cambridges that the Queen would not attend the celebration, which fell at the beginning of a busy week of engagements including the centenary of the RAF and a visit by US President Donald Trump.
In June that year, the Queen pulled out of a service at St Paul’s Cathedral because she was feeling ‘under the weather’.
In May 2018, the head of state had eye surgery to remove a cataract.
She was treated as a day patient and did not cancel any engagements nor appearances, but was spotted wearing sunglasses.
In November 2017, the Prince of Wales led the nation in honouring the country’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph.
It was the first time that the Queen, as head of state, had watched the ceremony from a nearby balcony, and was seen as a sign of the royal family in transition and an acknowledgement of her age.
Just before Christmas 2016, the Queen and Philip both fell ill with heavy colds, forcing them to delay their trip to Sandringham by a day.
The Queen was not well enough to attend the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene church and also missed the New Year’s Day one.
She later described it as a ‘particularly grisly mixture of cold and flu’.
She turned 90 in 2016 and, the same year, used the lift rather than stairs to enter Parliament for the State Opening, avoiding the 26 steps of the royal staircase at the Sovereign’s Entrance.
Buckingham Palace said the ‘modest adjustment’ to arrangements were made for ‘the Queen’s comfort’.
The decision was attributed to the Queen suffering from knee pain.
In 2014, the Prince of Wales stood in for the Queen for part of the Order of the Bath service to avoid her having to make an extra journey up and down some steep steps in full regalia.
In November 2013, the Duke of Cambridge stepped in to represent the Queen at an investiture ceremony after she suffered some ‘mild discomfort’ with her ankle after a busy weekend of engagements including the service of remembrance at the Cenotaph.
Her first hospital stay in 10 years came in 2013 when she was 86 after she suffered symptoms of gastroenteritis and missed an engagement in Swansea when she was due to present St David’s Day leeks to the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.
On March 3 2013, she was admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital to be assessed.
A week of engagements, including a two-day trip to Rome, was cancelled.
The Queen spent one night in hospital and left thanking staff and smiling before being driven to Buckingham Palace to rest.
It was thought her public appearances were back on track until Buckingham Palace announced on the morning of the Commonwealth Day Observance service on March 11 that she regrettably could no longer attend ‘as she continues to recover following her recent illness’.
It was the first Commonwealth Day Observance service she had missed in 20 years, the last occasion being when she had flu in 1993.
The Queen, who placed great importance to her role as Head of the Commonwealth, did however attend the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House on the evening of March 11 to sign the new Commonwealth Charter.
Buckingham Palace insisted it was just the ‘tail end’ of the symptoms and that her condition had not worsened.
But the next day she cancelled her engagements for the rest of the week, with her son, the Duke of York, saying later that it was sensible not to risk her coming out, but that she was not ill.
Her illnesses have been few and far between over the years.
She has suffered from back pain, and also had operations to remove torn cartilage from both knees.
She caught measles when Prince Charles was two months old in 1949 and had to be separated from her baby son.
The first time the Queen was actually admitted to hospital was in July 1982 when she had a wisdom tooth extracted at the King Edward VII Hospital in central London.
The Queen’s no-fuss approach to injury and illness was perfectly illustrated in 1994.
She broke her left wrist when her horse tripped during a ride on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
The break was not diagnosed until almost 24 hours later when her arm was X-rayed and set in plaster at a hospital.
It was the first time she had fallen in many years and the Queen had simply brushed herself down, remounted her horse and trotted on back to Sandringham.
The Mail understands that although the suggestion she could remain at Windsor for more than a fortnight was made out of ‘caution’, it is likely her diary could be affected for some time to come.
And while the monarch will be keen to get out and about as soon as possible, she will continue to be guided by what her doctors think is best.
This means other senior royals will have to pick up more engagements on her behalf whenever possible, particularly the Prince of Wales.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement last night: ‘Following on from their recent advice that the Queen should rest for a few days, Her Majesty’s doctors have advised that she should continue to rest for at least the next two weeks.
‘The doctors have advised that Her Majesty can continue to undertake light, desk-based duties during this time, including some virtual audiences [the receiving of ambassadors], but not to undertake any official visits.
‘Her Majesty regrets that this means she will be unable to attend the Festival of Remembrance on Saturday November 13.
‘However, it remains The Queen’s firm intention to be present for the National Service of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, on November 14.’
This meant, the Palace said, that she would ‘regretfully’ not be able to attend the traditional Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall with other members of the Royal Family.
But they said it remained the Queen’s ‘firm intention’ to be present for the traditional Remembrance Sunday event in London the following day.
In the wake of the announcement, one royal source told the Mail: ‘That’s just unmissable, as far as the Queen is concerned. It would take something very serious indeed for her not to attend. It is one of her most sacred duties.’
Another added: ‘It’s just about the most inked-in engagement in her diary each year.’ Indeed, she has missed the event only six times in her 69-year reign, either when pregnant or away on tour.
One royal insider said last night’s announcement was made because the Queen takes her role as patron of the Royal British Legion so seriously, and wanted to offer them as much ‘clarity’ as she could at such an important time of the year.
The first sign something was amiss regarding her health came on Wednesday last week when Buckingham Palace announced that she was cancelling a two-day tour to Northern Ireland just hours before she was due to fly.
Palaces aides said she would remain at Windsor Castle, but hours later she was secretly whisked to the private King Edward VII Hospital in London, where she remained until the following day – her first overnight stay for eight years.
It has been confirmed, however, that the issue was not Covid-related and the Mail has been told she does not have a seasonal cold ‘or anything like that’.
Palace sources insisted that her decision not to travel to Scotland was simply a ‘sensible precaution’ in light of her doctor’s advice to rest and that she was determined the conference should be a success.
Another source said it would have been ‘unwise’ for the Queen to make the 800-mile round trip from Windsor to Glasgow for the major event which aims to agree crucial global action on climate change.
Yesterday, the monarch looked in good spirits as she spoke to Mr Constantine – who was accompanied by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage – on video conferencing platform WebEx.
Wearing a floral dress and a pearl necklace, she told him: ‘I’m very glad to have the chance to see you if only mechanically this morning. Mr Armitage was then seen shaking his fellow poet’s hand as he gave him the award and said ‘very well done, congratulations.’
Her Majesty then joked: ‘I don’t know what you do with it. Do you put it in a cupboard?’
Her appearance via a Cisco Webex video call came came two days after she held a virtual Audience for the ambassadors from the Republic of Korea and Switzerland.
On Wednesday, royal experts suggested that there could now be a ‘reassessment and possibly a slight gear change in the kind of work the Queen does’.
Announcing The Queen’s engagement yesterday, Buckingham Palace said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen today conducted a virtual Audience via video link from Windsor Castle.
‘Mr. David Constantine was received by The Queen this afternoon via video link when Her Majesty presented him with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
‘The Poet Laureate, Professor Simon Armitage, was present.’
In response to Her Majesty’s question about what he would do with the award, Mr Constantine said he would put it ‘somewhere safe’.
He added: ‘This evening I shall show it to my children and grandchildren, who are waiting in our house’
The Queen then replied: ‘Ah right, well that will be nice. It is rather a nice medal isn’t it?’
Mr Constantine, 77, is also a novelist and writer of short stories. He has published several poetry collections, including ‘Collected Poems’ in 2004 and ‘Elder’ in 2014.
The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry was was instituted in 1933 by King George V with the recipient chosen by a committee chaired by the Poet Laureate. Previous winners include John Betjeman, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes.
Her Majesty will continue to work behind the scenes while next week’s climate change summit takes place in Glasgow and record a video message – but there could now be a chance in the distances she travels in future.
Royal expert Roya Nikkhah said on Wednesday: ‘We had some quite interesting background guidance yesterday from royal sources saying that although she’s not going to be there in person, she is going to filming this video address this week and she is going to be working behind the scenes to make sure there are meaningful actions.
‘And I thought what was really interesting was the guidance we had that she’s very keen that other world leaders and heads of state don’t use her absence as an excuse not to attend. So she’s following it very, very closely.’
Ms Nikkah, royal editor of the Sunday Times, who was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, added: ‘It’s quite a trip for a 95-year-old and she’s had this incredibly packed both public and private diary for a few weeks, which has obviously left her pretty tired.
‘And I think the feeling probably was – we don’t know, because we’re not doctors – but the feeling probably was from her doctors it was a little bit much for her to go up and do all that.
‘And it’s not just the travel – it’s also being on. It’s also entertaining and hosting world leaders, talking to them about climate change and all of that – I think the feeling probably is that’s just a little bit too much at the moment until she’s back to full strength.’
She continued: ‘I think there will be a reassessment and possibly a slight gear change in the kind of work the Queen does, the distances she travels, but I don’t think we will see – all being well, if the Queen is able to continue with public duties as we hope that she will be – I think we will still see her out and about as much as she and her doctors feel she can – but I think there will be a gear change, and her private secretaries and her diary secretaries looking at engagements that come in and thinking what does Her Majesty the Queen really need to be at, and what does she feel she really can do. So I think there will be a constant review going forwards now.’
Announcing the Cop26 decision, Buckingham Palace said earlier this week: ‘Following advice to rest, The Queen has been undertaking light duties at Windsor Castle.
‘Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the evening reception of Cop26 on Monday, November 1.
‘Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message.’
The palace has still not explained why the Queen was taken to hospital last week. After it was announced she had cancelled the Northern Ireland visit, the palace initially said the monarch was resting at Windsor.
It was only 36 hours later, after news had leaked out, that a spokesman confirmed she had been admitted to King Edward VII’s hospital in London for ‘preliminary investigations’.
Aides had hoped that the head of state would be well enough to lead the Royal Family at the summit, either in person or via video-link.
And earlier on Tuesday she returned to work at Windsor, where she is resting on doctors’ orders, for the first time since last week.
The pictures show her face on a computer screen as she greeted the new ambassador from the Republic of Korea, Gunn Kim, who was at Buckingham Palace. She also spoke to the new Swiss ambassador, Markus Leitner.
The Queen’s decision not to attend Cop26 will be a blow to organisers.
There are few people on the world stage who command the same respect and authority as the British monarch.
With the head of state missing from the event, it is hoped no world leaders will use her absence as a reason not to attend the summit.
It previously emerged that Xi Jinping – president of China, now the planet’s biggest polluter – is skipping the much-anticipated conference.
The Royal Family will still be represented by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge – both of whom have strong environmental campaigning credentials – as well as the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Senior royal aides said the Queen will be working hard behind the scenes to make the summit a success.
She will film her video message at Windsor Castle later this week and has let it be known that she ‘very much wants Cop26 to be a success and see meaningful actions’.
Her Majesty beamed as she virtually presented English poet David Constantine – who was at Buckingham Palace – with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry yesterday afternoon
The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry presented to David Constantine at Buckingham Palace, London, during a virtual audience by Queen Elizabeth II
Today’s engagement came two days after the The Queen was photographed at Windsor Castle as she spoke to the South Korean ambassador and also held an audience the ambassador from Switzerland, Markus Leitner
Earlier this month she criticised world leaders’ inaction on addressing the climate change crisis.
At a reception following the official opening of the Welsh parliament, the Queen referred to Cop26 and said: ‘I’ve been hearing all about Cop… still don’t know who is coming. No idea. We only know about people who are not coming… It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.’
A palace source told the Mail that the Queen was being ‘cautious and sensible’ by changing her plans.
‘Her Majesty is following advice – rest and light duties,’ they said. ‘She remains in good spirits. Her Majesty had audiences today and is expecting a call with the Chancellor this evening, as is the norm before the Budget. There are other light engagements in the diary.’
The monarch is being carefully looked after by the Medical Household, her team of royal physicians, but the Mail revealed last week that she had carried out 19 engagements in October – a phenomenal workload for a woman of her age.
Two weeks ago she was forced to start using a walking stick in public for the first time – a stark reminder of her advancing years.
October 16 — Queen Elizabeth II attends Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire
October 13 — Dame Imogen Cooper is received by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, where she was presented with The Queen’s Medal for Music for 2019
October 12 — Queen Elizabeth II uses a walking stick as she arrives to attend a service at Westminster Abbey in London
And last Tuesday the monarch was on her feet for almost an hour when she held a lavish reception for guests including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and US climate envoy John Kerry, where she looked bright and cheerful.
Buckingham Palace said she ‘remains in good spirits’, though a royal source told The Sunday Times: ‘She is knackered.’
And an insider told the Mail: ‘Her private office will constantly look at her diary and tweak it as and when is necessary.’
It also emerged that the Queen, who is deeply religious and rarely does not attend church, missed prayers at Windsor’s All Saints Chapel in Windsor on Sunday.
She has been resting following medical advice to cancel her two-day trip to Northern Ireland.
The Queen had a busy schedule of engagements in the first weeks of October following her return from Balmoral.
Her hospital stay was kept a secret and only confirmed by the Palace when it was revealed by a newspaper.
It is highly unusual that any major engagement would be cancelled at the last minute, suggesting that staff are taking no chances with the elderly head of state’s health.
She has faced a tumultuous 18 months, including the death of the Duke of Edinburgh as well as the acrimonious departure of Prince Harry and wife Meghan.
October 10 — Queen Elizabeth II is seen on her way to The Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor as she returns to church
The Queen still keeps a busy diary of events and audiences and deals with her daily red boxes of official papers.
Since she returned to Windsor from her summer break at Balmoral, the Queen has carried out 15 engagements, listed in the Court Circular, including her audiences, plus an additional trip to Ascot.
Senior aides at Buckingham Palace are scrambling to devise a strategy for managing the Queen’s workload after being accused of misleading the public over her health.
Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, last night faced calls to ‘be ruthless’ and purge the Monarch’s diary of functions not central to her role as head of state.
Officials are understood to be drawing up a ‘core’ list of key events that the Queen will prioritise in the next 12 months, including the Platinum Jubilee to celebrate her 70-year reign in June.
It comes amid reports the Queen will be accompanied by one of her children or grandchildren when she appears in public in the future to avoid having to cancel and let down the public in the event of future health scares.
Another member of the Royal Family will be on hand to step in should she need company or assistance, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Meanwhile, the Palace’s communications team is under pressure to be more candid should the 95-year-old Monarch require further visits to hospital.
The Queen’s courtiers faced extensive criticism last week for failing to inform the public that she had been admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Wednesday and stayed there overnight for tests.
October 6 — Queen Elizabeth II gestures as she meets members of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery to mark the 150th Anniversary of the foundation of A and B Batteries, at Windsor Castle
The media was told that she was resting at Windsor Castle and aides revealed the hospital stay only on Thursday night after news leaked out. The controversy has shone a spotlight on the growing challenge faced by the Palace in balancing the Queen’s desire to be an active head of state with needing to protect her health.
Royal sources say the easing of Covid restrictions has resulted in a logjam of public events, adding pressure on the Queen’s diary.
According to Buckingham Palace’s Court Circular, she has held 13 separate audiences or meetings, attended seven major events and travelled almost 900 miles since leaving Balmoral on October 1.
In addition, every day she still reads Government papers, delivered to her in red boxes, and has a long list of private meetings.
‘They have to find some kind of balance,’ said Sally Bedell Smith, who has written a bestselling biography of the Queen.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the Queen’s autumn schedule had been more crammed than expected, but last-minute cancellations were inevitable in the future.
‘Every now and again there will be this reminder that she is 95 and she can’t do what was expected of her 10, 20 years ago,’ Mr Little said.
Last week the BBC’s veteran Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell faced a backlash last night after questioning whether Buckingham Palace undermined public trust by failing to reveal the Queen had been admitted to hospital.
In forthright comments, Mr Witchell said that journalists and the public had not been ‘given the complete picture’.
He added: ‘The problem, it seems to me, is that rumour and misinformation always thrive in the absence of proper, accurate and trustworthy information.’
But his remarks provoked criticism online. ‘Nicholas Witchell is honestly so infuriating,’ one Royal watcher wrote on Twitter. ‘The Queen is 95 and like most her age, she’ll be in and out of hospital for various tests because that’s what happens at that age no matter how fit you are. She doesn’t need to disclose her every move, let her have some dignity.’
October 4 — The Queen is shown the baton that will carry her personal message at Buckingham Palace in London ahead of the launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
October 2 — Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall looks on at the opening of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament
The Queen was seen using a walking stick for the first time at a major engagement during a Westminster Abbey service on October 12.
On Thursday October 21, she was said to be in ‘good spirits’ after her hospital stay and back at her desk, undertaking light duties. But she missed a church service at Windsor on Sunday.
Royal sources had briefed the Sunday Times that the Queen was ‘knackered’ due to a busy social life and preference for late night television, as having a hectic run of engagements in October.
The Queen’s husband of 73 years the Duke of Edinburgh died six months ago at the age of 99.
Buckingham Palace would not comment on whether the monarch has received her booster Covid-19 jab, but given her age it is likely she has already had it.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen today conducted two virtual audiences via video link from Windsor Castle.
‘His Excellency Mr Gunn Kim was received in audience by The Queen today via video link and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from the Republic of Korea to the Court of St James’s.
Mrs Hee Jung Lee was also received by Her Majesty.
‘His Excellency Mr Markus Leitner was received in audience by The Queen and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from the Swiss Confederation to the Court of St. James’s. Mrs Leitner was also received by Her Majesty.’
The Queen’s busy schedule before a night in hospital
The Queen attended a number of engagements before spending a night in hospital on Wednesday last week. She was ordered to rest by doctors and advised to miss a trip to Northern Ireland following her busy schedule.
Here is what the 95-year-old monarch has been up to since her return to Windsor Castle at the start of October:
– October 6: The Queen holds two virtual audiences at Windsor with the Greek ambassador and the ambassador for Belize.
She meets Canadian troops from 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and later has a telephone audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
– October 7: The Queen, with the Earl of Wessex, launches the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games from the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.
– October 12: The Queen, accompanied by the Princess Royal, attends a Westminster Abbey service of thanksgiving to mark the centenary of the Royal British Legion.
She uses a walking stick at the abbey – the first time she has done so at a major event.
– October 13: The monarch has a face-to-face audience with pianist Dame Imogen Cooper to present her with the Queen’s Medal for Music. She also holds three other audiences.
– October 14: On an away day to Cardiff, the Queen delivers a speech at the sixth session of the Welsh Senedd.
– October 16: The Queen enjoys a day at the races at Ascot, and presents the trophy after the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes during the Qipco British Champions Day.
– October 18: She holds a virtual audience with the new Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Cindy Kiro.
– October 19: The Queen has three engagements – two virtual audiences with the Japanese ambassador and the EU ambassador, and then hosts an evening reception at Windsor Castle to mark the Global Investment Summit.
– October 20: She is under strict orders to rest and ‘reluctantly’ cancels a two-day trip to Northern Ireland.
– October 21: Buckingham Palace confirms the Queen spent the previous night in hospital for ‘preliminary investigations’. She returns to Windsor Castle at lunchtime and is said to be in ‘good spirits’, back at her desk, undertaking light duties.
– October 24: The monarch misses a church service at Windsor.
– October 26: The Queen carries out virtual audiences from Windsor Castle, her first official engagements since she was ordered to rest by doctors. Later, Buckingham Palace announces the Queen has ‘reluctantly decided’ not to attend a Cop26 reception in Glasgow on November 1. Instead, she will deliver an address in a recorded video message. She also speaks to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of his Budget.
– October 27: The Queen holds her weekly meeting with the Prime Minister by phone.
– October 28: She presents poet David Constantine with the prestigious Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2020 in a virtual ceremony, speaking to him by videolink from Windsor Castle.
– October 29: Buckingham Palace announces the Queen has been advised by doctors to rest for the next two weeks and only undertake ‘desk-based duties’. The Palace says she has the ‘firm intention’ of leading the nation in honouring the country’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday on November 14.