Thousands of people have gathered across Britain and around the world to mark the centenary of the armistice that ended the first world war.
At the Cenotaph in London, the Queen, the prime minister, Theresa May, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, and other political and military leaders were joined by packed crowds who stood in silence to pay their respects.
The two minutes’ silence at 11 o’clock was marked by the striking of Big Ben, specially brought out of its temporary retirement. The Prince of Wales, laying a wreath on behalf of the Queen, was followed by the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The Queen watched the ceremony from a balcony beside the Cenotaph; for the first time, she was not accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, 97.
As well as amassed ranks of current and former members of the military, the parade past the Cenotaph was joined by a “people’s procession” of 10,000 members of the public who were allocated tickets in a ballot to join the march.
One of those taking part, Kate Nicholl, said she was marching in memory of her great-grandfather, John Waugh, who was killed in action aged 28 in Flanders two weeks before the armistice. He was shell-shocked but still had to fight.
The procession was important, she said, “because the generation who had first-hand knowledge are dying out, not just those who served but those they told. I think it would be a lovely thing to allow descendants to continue to hold true to those memories.”
In Edinburgh, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, laid a wreath at a ceremony at the Stone of Remembrance outside the city chambers, after 11 rounds were fired from Edinburgh Castle.
Ceremonies have also been taking place in towns and cities across the UK, with further acts of remembrance planned for later on Sunday. In Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh, commemorations began before dawn where more than 100 people gathered to hear poems and prayers, and the Northern Ireland first minister, Arlene Foster, and the Irish government minister Heather Humphreys laid wreaths.
The lord-lieutenant for Co Fermanagh, Viscount Brookborough, told those present that a century ago Enniskillen was the first town to hear of the armistice, through a radio operator who was scanning the airwaves.
Thirty beaches across Britain, from Cornwall to the Shetlands and Pembrokeshire to Co Down, have been decorated with portraits of local and well-known casualties of the war, as part of the Pages of the Sea project devised by the film director Danny Boyle.
In Folkestone, a huge portrait of the poet Wilfred Owen was sketched on the sand, along with smaller silhouettes of other soldiers traced by members of the public. In Blackpool, a single white rose was placed on the sand portrait of L/Cpl Arkwright, who landed in France with the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment on 23 August 1914, and was killed in action three days later during the battle of Le Cateau.
Abigail Wrigley, from Bolton-le-Sands in Lancashire, brought faded family photos to the beach to remember her own relatives who fought and died. She held pictures of her great-grandfather, William John McLean, mentioned in dispatches in the first world war, who died at sea in 1940 during the second world war, and of his two sons, her great-uncles Billy and Harry McLean, who survived that war.
“It’s really poignant,” she said. “These are the people who didn’t come home. These are the people whose lives stopped and they are the reason why we are where we are. It’s sad. They are not with us but we are very, very grateful that they did what they did and I feel like it’s a matter of honour.”
In Portsmouth, a group of residents including schoolchildren, veterans and members of the armed forces, were keeping a 24-hour honour guard at the city’s war memorial.
Global commemorations have centred on Paris, where more than 60 heads of state and government gathered at the Arc de Triomphe, where an unknown soldier killed in the war is buried. Joining the French president, Emmanuel Macron, were the presidents of the US and Russia, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar.
In the pouring rain, most heads of state arrived with Macron in coaches driven up the Champs Élysées from the presidential palace. They then walked slowly together under black umbrellas to the Arc de Triomphe, with Merkel beside Macron.
The image of leaders walking together through the rain was described by French commentators as a moving gesture of peace. Some leaders were absent from the scene, including Trump and Putin, both of whom arrived separately with their own security detail.
On Sunday afternoon, Macron will host the inaugural Paris Peace Forum, seeking to promote a multilateral approach to security and ultimately avoid a repeat of the errors that led to the outbreak of the first world war. Trump, who was heavily criticised on Saturday for cancelling a visit to a US military cemetery in France because it was raining, will not attend the forum.
At the Menin Gate in Ypres, the enormous monument to tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers whose remains were never found, buglers sounded the Last Post as a large crowd stood in silence, before poppies were released from the gate’s roof.
Ceremonies also took place to honour the 62,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders who died in the war. About 12,000 people gathered at the National War Memorial in Canberra, where the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said soldiers were often described as fearless, but really they were just brave.
“They feared greatly but acted nonetheless, and it is this that embodies our highest aspirations as a nation and as people,” he said.
“To live for others even when to do so is unimaginably hard and the cost extreme.”