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    Charles III leads first Remembrance Sunday as king

    LONDON (AFP) – King Charles III took part in his first Remembrance Sunday event as king, laying a wreath in tribute to United Kingdom (UK) and Commonwealth war dead, as Britain’s new prime minister also lauds Ukraine’s defenders.

    The 73-year-old monarch had previously deputised for his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September aged 96 after a year of failing health.

    Since 2017, she had watched the annual service from a balcony of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) overlooking the Cenotaph.

    Last year a back complaint forced her to miss the ceremony in central London, just weeks after an unscheduled overnight stay in hospital.

    Charles, who served in the Royal Navy in the 1970s, laid a wreath on her behalf.

    Now king and commander-in-chief of British forces, he laid his first wreath at the war memorial as reigning monarch.

    The ring of red artificial poppies – Britain’s symbol of remembrance – is mounted on black leaves, with a ribbon in the king’s scarlet, purple and gold horseracing colours.

    Buckingham Palace said a similar wreath was laid on behalf of his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, for the first time.

    Camilla, 75, watched the event from the FCDO balcony.

    Two minutes’ silence marked the start of the sombre tribute. It began with the distinctive chime of Big Ben, which returned to regular service after a five-year renovation.

    New Conservative leader Rishi Sunak also attended his first Remembrance Sunday as prime minister.

    “This year more than ever, we are reminded of the huge debt of gratitude we owe those who lay down their lives to protect their country,” Sunak said in a statement.

    “As we fall silent together on Remembrance Sunday, we will honour the memories of the men and women we have lost, and pay tribute to the brave soldiers of Ukraine as they continue their fight for freedom.”

    Britain’s King Charles III attends the Remembrance Sunday ceremony. PHOTO: AP
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