King Charles and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will lead remembrance services for Britain’s war dead on Sunday, seeking to unify communities following a day of protests in London on Saturday, when police clashed with far-right groups.
The annual Armistice Day commemoration on Nov. 11, which marks the end of World War One and remembers those killed in military action, was marred by controversy after a large pro-Palestinian march through London was scheduled to start two hours later.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had said it was disrespectful to hold the rally on Armistice Day, and hundreds of counter-protesters from far-right groups showed up to oppose it, clashing with police, and resulting in over 90 arrests.
Sunak condemned the scenes of violence in a statement on Saturday and said the event should be about unity.
“Remembrance weekend is a time for us to come together as a nation and remember those who fought and died for our freedoms. The unacceptable scenes today disrespect their memory,” he said.
Around 10,000 veterans and 800 members of the armed services are due to attend a service at the Cenotaph war memorial in central London on Sunday, said a government statement.
Sunak said that recent events should serve as a stark reminder that peace should not be taken for granted, likely referring to Israel’s month-long war with Hamas after Gaza-based militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and took hostages.
The government said veterans of Britain’s nuclear testing programme would be awarded new medals to recognise their special service.