For many who were shielding during Covid, this year was the first time they felt able to attend a Remembrance Sunday event since the pandemic. Lieutenant Colonel Lesley Wilde TD VR Media Operations recalls being a media operator for a unique act of Remembrance for the nation in 2020:
While the country was coming to terms with the loss and loneliness of the pandemic nowhere was the impact of COVID-19 on the nation more starkly visible than during the period of Remembrance.
On Remembrance Sunday itself, Whitehall was eerily quiet with every sound echoing uncharacteristically around the empty buildings and side streets. It was a chilly but bright morning with a slight haze in the air. Slowly the trance was broken with the sound of hobnail boots on the pavements as Guardsmen fell in to line the road. Military bands approached from the Palace of Westminster, coming to a halt near Downing Street. On this hushed morning the tunes were particularly mournful and, as the sound drifted around us and upwards, the music filled the void where the streets would normally have been busy with the voices of people meeting with friends and finding their place along this familiar route.
It was decided that a maximum of six people from each of the services and a contingent from the Royal Hospital Chelsea would be the few to represent the many. They would be the only people to march past the Cenotaph that day and, on behalf of all of us, pay their respects to the fallen. The Royal Family and representatives of the Government, the Armed Forces and other key organisations lay wreaths and I stood with the BBC who filmed the event so that we could all be a part of the commemorations that day, wherever we were around the world.
It was a great privilege to be a part of the national expression of Remembrance at that strange time in our lives. It was a poignant and significant moment that for its simplicity touched many of us even more than the service we have become familiar with in more predictable times. For myself, having worked on other Remembrance parades in London and elsewhere it was a unique experience and a stark reminder that nothing can ever be taken for granted.