On Remembrance Sunday, people across the UK people gathered to pay tribute to those who had died in battle.
The events were given added poignancy by a return to pre-pandemic numbers of participating veterans and military, as well as onlookers.
This time last year, nearly all in-person Remembrance events were cancelled – with organisers choosing to pay tribute online.
Thousands gathered to pay tribute at the Dudley Remembrance Sunday service. Event organisers at Dudley Council invited members of the public to join with ex-servicemen and women and community groups to pay their respects.
There was a short parade from Stone Street Square with the parade moving past the First World War memorial on Priory Street, down Priory Road and onto Ednam Road before it came to a halt at the cenotaph.
Reverend James Treasure led the Remembrance Sunday service and was joined by the Mayor of Dudley at Coronation Gardens.
Wreaths were laid at the cenotaph or the First World War memorial after the service.
Councillor Anne Millward, the mayor of Dudley, said: “It has been an incredible privilege and honour to represent Dudley at today’s Remembrance Sunday service, I’m so pleased it could go ahead in a more familiar way this year.
“This sombre occasion reminds us all to stop and reflect on the huge sacrifices people have made for our country including the brave men and women serving their country today.
“Today we promise to never forget those who have been lost and I would like to thank the Dudley community for once again joining us in paying their respects.”
In Wolverhampton, a huge crowd of onlookers packed out St Peter’s Square in the city centre as a military parade took place. The Band of West Midlands Fire Service played, followed by a two minute silence.
The mayor of Wolverhampton Claire Darke laid a wreath at the memorial, followed by members of local community groups.
Hymns were also sung, with the watching crowd joining in, before prayers and then a rendition of the National Anthem.
Over in Sandwell, a two minute silence was held at Oldbury War Memorial, which was livestreamed on Sandwell Council’s Facebook page.
Due to the Covid pandemic, organisers chose to host a virtual Festival of Remembrance which was shared across social media platforms at 1pm on Sunday.
Various parades also took place in person at Oldbury Civic Square, Powke Lane Crematorium in Rowley Regis, Smethwick Council House, Victoria Park in Tipton, Wednesbury War Memorial, and Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich.
Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Mushtaq Hussain was unable to attend any parades due to a surgical procedure but said: “ I – like many others across the country – remember and honour those who gave their lives for our freedom.”
In Walsall, there was dismay earlier this week as it turned out a 100-year-old tradition that sees the mayor lead the Remembrance procession from Walsall Council House to the Cenotaph would not go ahead.
The council made the decision to station Mayor Rose Burley at the Cenotaph where she then received a ‘civic party’ consisting of councillors, MPs, freeman of the borough, veterans, faith groups and former mayors.
This was done because there were concerns visitors attending the service would not see the civic leader in her bright red robe and gold chains as she would be lost in the parade.
Walsall Council said safety of visitors was a high priority and also said the new arrangement would ensure she would be visible to everyone attending.
This year marked 100 years since Walsall Cenotaph was unveiled in the town centre and, apart from last year’s Covid-restricted service, has upheld a tradition of the sitting mayor leading the parade.
But former mayors questioned the change in tradition, especially on such a milestone year.
As well as Walsall town centre, there were Remembrance parades in Aldridge, Willenhall, Darlaston, Brownhills, Pelsall, Walsall Wood and Bloxwich.
There was a service of Remembrance in Stafford town centre on Sunday, which included a wreath laying at the borough and county war memorials, followed by a parade through the town centre.
And in Cannock, there was a parade from Stafford Road to the war memorial for a two-minute silence and the laying of the wreaths followed by a service at St Luke’s Church.
Nationally, members of the royal family and senior politicians led the nation in honouring the country’s war dead.
However, Buckingham Palace announced on Sunday morning that the Queen would be absent from the service at the Cenotaph in central London due to having sprained her back.
Heir to the throne Charles placed a wreath of poppies on his mother’s behalf, as has been the tradition since 2017, but the act had further symbolism given her absence.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid a wreath and said it was a moment to “come together to remember those who sacrificed everything in service of our country”.
In what would have been the Queen’s place on the balcony stood her 86-year-old cousin the Duke of Kent, with his sister Princess Alexandra at his side, as they solemnly watched the proceedings.
The Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Wessex and Princess Royal also laid wreaths at the memorial.
Looking on from another balcony of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building were the Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Cambridge and Countess of Wessex.
The palace said the Queen made the decision not to attend “with great regret” and is “disappointed” to miss it.