Portsmouth wishes Queen a 'speedy recovery' after she pulls out of Cenotaph Remembrance service
WORRIED residents, veterans and political leaders across Portsmouth have been sending their best wishes to the Queen after the monarch pulled out of today’s Remembrance events due to ill health.
The 95-year-old head of state had been due to attend this morning’s national ceremony at the Cenotaph in London.
But just hours before it was due to begin, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would no longer be attending after spraining her back.
The news came as a shock to many in Portsmouth, who expressed their concern over the monarch’s health.
Buckingham Palace has since insisted the Queen would be returning to light duties next week.
Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, said the Queen’s absence from today’s ceremonies had been felt across the country.
Speaking to The News following the city’s Remembrance service in Guildhall Square, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘We are all disappointed she was not able to attend, but none more so than her.
‘As we sang the National Anthem today we were all thinking of her and wishing her well. And she will have been thinking about all of us.’
The Queen has only missed six other Cenotaph ceremonies during her reign: on four occasions when she was on overseas visits to Ghana in 1961, Brazil in 1968, Kenya in 1983 and South Africa in 1999.
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, Labour’s shadow armed forces minister, said the monarch's absence was a huge blow.
He said: ‘I know how much Her Majesty prides herself in her attendance at remembrance commemorations and her enduring support to the nation’s armed forces.
‘This would have been a difficult decision for the Queen and I know the people of Portsmouth will wish Her Majesty a speedy recovery.’
Members of the royal family and senior political leaders led the event in London, which was given added poignancy by a return to pre-pandemic numbers of participating veterans and military, as well as onlookers.
The Prince of Wales and prime minister were among those laying a wreath at the war memorial for the National Service of Remembrance.
Boris Johnson, who appeared sombre as he laid a wreath, said it was a moment to ‘come together to remember those who sacrificed everything in service of our country’.
Only the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds could be heard as thousands of people held the two-minute silence at 11am in honour of all those who have lost their lives in conflict.
It was a similar display in towns and villages across The News’ region.
In Portsmouth, hundreds of people packed into Guildhall Square to mark Remembrance Sunday.
Among them was retired Royal Marine Ryan Shelley, who was worried about the Queen’s health. He said: ‘It’s really sad, an absolute shame.’
Philip Thorley, a Gosport resident at the event, added: ‘I’ve always been a royalist. She’s served the nation – I’m sure she’ll be gutted.’
In Gosport, hundreds of people returned to pay their respects to the fallen during a service near the Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Among them was Royal Navy veteran Jim Grimshaw, who spent 37 years in the Senior Service.
Paying tribute to the Queen, the former Chief Petty Officer said: ‘She’ll be there in spirit, her absence won’t take anything away from the commemorations.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage echoed the view and added: ‘I’m sure Her Majesty wouldn’t have willingly missed the Remembrance event at the Cenotaph. Her health must come first, she is extremely precious and her service to our nation unparalleled.
‘I know local people will be thinking of her and wishing her a speedy recovery.’
Retired Corporal George Ashley, 63, attended the Remembrance event in Havant town centre and sent his best wishes to the Queen, known lovingly by forces personnel as ‘the boss’.
He said: ‘It is heartbreaking news to know that the Queen is suffering and is unable to make Remembrance Day services, but on behalf of myself and my fellow veterans – we wish her the best and quickest recovery, that is our main concern.’
Tributes were also paid to the Queen on Facebook.
Karen Davis-Duncan wrote: ‘Bless her. We are in Whitehall waiting for service to begin. Had a good view of the balcony as well. Wish her all the best.’
Sandy Mullins added: ‘Very sensible. God bless her.’
Speaking from London, Royal Navy Petty Officer Ben Shread, of the combat camera team, said: ‘It would be nice if the boss was here.
‘She’s the head of the armed services. I don’t know if she has ever missed the Remembrance parade before.
‘So, if there is a reason she is not here it must be a very serious one. We all wish her well.’
Havant MP Alan Mak added residents ‘and everyone across the country will miss Her Majesty and we wish her a full and speedy recovery’.