LONDON (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande and Britain’s Prince Harry led commemorations as the two nations marked Armistice Day on Friday to remember those killed in war.
At 11 a.m, millions across Britain observed two minutes’ silence, marking the time fighting ended on the Western front of World War One on Nov. 11, 1918.
Hollande laid a wreath under the Arc de Triomphe during particularly solemn tributes in Paris which came roughly a year after 130 people were killed when gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the city’s Stade de France sports stadium, cafes and the Bataclan concert venue.
“November 11 marks the memory of the First World War and of a rising wave of nationalism that could not be contained. We must continue to remember it,” Hollande said.
In Britain, offices, schools and city centers fell silent while in Trafalgar Square in central London, traffic came to a halt, with crowds invited to put poppy petals in the square’s famous fountains.
Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson who himself served with the British military on two tours of duty in Afghanistan, led commemorations at a service at the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in central England.
The Royal British Legion charity, which since 1921 has sold red poppy symbols to raise money for veterans of the armed forces, said this year it wanted people to “rethink Remembrance” to embrace veterans from recent conflicts as well as those who died in the two World Wars.
England and Scotland soccer players are planning to wear poppies during their World Cup qualifier on Friday which could see them in breach of FIFA rules which forbid wearing anything that could be perceived as a political statement.
Armistice Day is followed by Remembrance Sunday on Nov. 13 when Britain’s royal family and senior politicians pay their respects at the Cenotaph memorial in central London.
Reporting by Michael Holden in London and Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris; editing by Stephen Addison