Remembrance Day: Packed Royal Mile falls silent as Edinburgh pays tribute to the fallen
On a perfect autumn morning in Edinburgh, a piper’s lament was the signal for a hush to fall upon the crowds packed onto the pavements of the Royal Mile.
From Edinburgh Castle, the firing of a gun began a two-minute silent tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, before The Last Post was sounded by a long bugler.
The first large-scale Remembrance Sunday service since the lifting of Covid restrictions saw hundreds of veterans parade on Sunday from the centuries-old fortress to the City Chambers, accompanied by the RAF Central Scotland Pipes and Drums and the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
There was undoubtedly extra resonance to the service, the first since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as those who have fallen in conflicts over the years were honoured. A giant video screen relayed the proceedings to the throng of tourists, locals, and families of veterans and military personnel involved in the parade and service.
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Robert Aldridge and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led the laying of wreaths at the Stone of Remembrance outside the City Chambers, along with representatives of the armed services, veterans' groups and religious organisations.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Remembrance Sunday is always a very poignant occasion. It is our opportunity, and our obligation, to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice – people who fought and died so that we could enjoy the freedoms and the way of life that we have today. It’s an important occasion for all of us to fall silent and remember.
"It is particularly poignant that people have gathered in such large numbers in a way that hasn’t been possible over the last couple of years. To have people together again in Edinburgh, and in towns and cities across Scotland and the UK, is really important.
“There are very few people still alive who remember first-hand the horrors of the Second World War and certainly not the First World War, but the importance of remembrance is as strong as ever. Of course, this year we have seen the horror of a land war in Europe for the first time in many decades.
"So this is also an opportunity to remember the importance of peace between nations and the common humanity that unites us.”
Keith Brown, 52, from Bonnyrigg in Midlothian, said: “I come along to this service every year because my dad was a veteran and my daughter is now in the army cadets. My dad passed away a couple of years ago, but my mum is still around. They lived through the Second World War and had family who lived through the First World. It has always been quite a thing in our family.”
Louise Heavey, 44, from Edinburgh, said: “This is the first time I’ve come along. My daughter is in the army cadets, taking part in the parade. I have had aunts and uncles who were in the services, as well as friends who served, so it’s all quite close to home. It’s all about remembering the fallen. We are here today because of what they did."
Dr Claire Armstrong, chief executive of Royal British Legion Scotland, said: “From the First World War to more recent conflicts, it is vital that we do not forget those who paid the ultimate price."