LO Queen Elizabeth II took a significant step back from official duties today, leaving heir to the throne Prince Charles to lay a tribute to Britain's war dead on her behalf. The queen traditionally lays a wreath at the Cenotaph national war memorial in London, but for the first time she observed the annual Remembrance Sunday service from a balcony. Her eldest son Charles instead stepped forward following a nationwide two-minute silence, placing a wreath of poppies at the monument close to parliament. Other members of the royal family, including princes William and Harry, also took part in the ceremony along with senior politicians and veterans. Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also placed wreaths at the Cenotaph, while the ceremony was attended by former premiers including Tony Blair. The queen has missed the ceremony only six times in her 65-year reign and handing over her role to Charles is a visible sign to her subjects that she is reducing her official duties. Buckingham Palace announced in advance that the 91-year- old monarch would view the service from a Foreign Office balcony, alongside her husband Prince Philip, 96, who retired from public duties in August. Queen Elizabeth has already reduced her schedule, with official engagements dropping 22 per cent from the 425 in her 2012 diamond jubilee year to 332 in 2016. Remembrance Sunday is the Sunday nearest to Armistice Day on November 11, the anniversary of the 1918 signing of the peace treaty that ended fighting in World War I. More than one million people from the then British empire died in the four-year conflict, but the day has become a time to remember all the troops killed in wars since then.
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