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Dean of Westminster gives Christmas Day service

The Dean of Westminster will give a Christmas service at 10am at Westminster Abbey today.

Westminster Abbey is where all British monarchs since 1066 have been crowned - and it has also been the site of sixteen royal weddings Credit: Credit: Reuters

The Dean, Dr John Hall, is head of Westminster Abbey and a chaplain to the Queen. He officiated at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding at the Abbey in 2011.

He will be joined at the service by the Westminster Abbey choir, who also sang at the Royal Wedding.

A further service is taking place at the Abbey at 3pm which is open to the public without tickets.

Harry accompanies Duke to Abbey

The Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive

The Duke of Edinburgh will be accompanied by Prince Harry today when he makes his annual visit to the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

The royals will pay their respects by each laying a Cross of Remembrance in front of two wooden crosses from the Graves of Unknown British Soldiers from the First and Second World Wars.

The Last Post will be played before a two minutes' silence is held and Philip and Harry will then visit the plots, meeting veterans from both past and more recent conflicts.

The first Field of Remembrance was held in the grounds of Westminster Abbey in November 1928, making 2013 the 85th year.

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Activist 'defaced Westminster Abbey statue'

An activist who allegedly defaced a statue at Westminster Abbey in a protest against the family court system will continue to be questioned by police today.

Officers were called to the abbey on Sunday evening.

Cheryl Corless, a campaigner for pressure group Stolen Children of the UK (S.C.O.T. UK), was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after entering the central London church and allegedly spraying the statue on the left hand of the nave, protest group Fathers4Justice said in a statement.

WWI Centenary events that are to be held in the capital

The Great War centenary is to be commemorated by a four-year programme of national acts of remembrance, UK-wide cultural initiatives and educational opportunities.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced details of the plan today, those which are in the capital include:

  • The centrepiece of the commemorations will be the reopening of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) following the £35 million refurbishment of the First World War galleries. The museum was founded in 1917 to record the then still-ongoing conflict.
  • The 4th August 2014, 100 years since the UK entered the Great War, a candlelit vigil of prayer will be held with VIP guests at Westminster Abbey. It will finish at 11.00pm, the moment war was declared.
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Young people are 'custodians of the legacy of Great War'

Dr Andrew Murrison MP, the Prime Minister's special representative for the centenary commemoration, said it would remember the lives of combatants and civilians.

It will be about young people, the object and custodians of the legacy.

To see youngsters gazing out over row upon row of headstones in places like Passchendaele is to recalibrate our prejudices of our much-maligned British youth.

If you want to know why all of this matters, ask them. Centenaries are an open invitation to plumb the historical record, to challenge mythology and to seek new insights and fresh perspectives.

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Great War commemoration events to be held across UK

Streets could be renamed as part of commemorative events to mark one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War.

The Government said it hoped that a vigil to be held in Westminster Abbey would also be marked across the country by churches, faiths and other organisations.

At least £15m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, including a new £6m community projects fund will enable young people working in their communities to conserve, explore and share local heritage of the First World War as the government hopes to see the centenary marked across the UK.

A British tank at the western front in France. Credit: SCANPIX HISTORICAL/Scanpix/Press Association Images

The commemoration events will also include the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 2016, and further events to mark the battles of Jutland, Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Armistice Day in 2018.

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Legacy of the Great War 'at the heart of events'

Maria Miller has said that marking the Great War is way of making sure people understand the affect the war had both at home and abroad.

The Culture Secretary said: "the war itself had an enormous impact not just on the Western Front but also here on the Home Front. I think it's all of those things that had a profound effect on our nation and are at the heart of our commemorative events."

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World War One centenary events to last four years

Details of how the centenary of the Great War will be marked have been announced, including candlelit vigils, commemoration services and trips for school children.

The celebrations are expected to run for four years marking the duration of the conflict.

The opening day of the centenary on 4th August 2014 will focus on:

  • a wreath laying service at Glasgow’s Cenotaph, following the special service for Commonwealth leaders at Glasgow Cathedral
  • an event at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium - which has an equal number of British and German soldiers
  • a candlelit vigil of prayer at Westminster Abbey finishing at 11pm – the moment war was declared
  • the reopening of Imperial War Museum London (IWM) following the £35m refurbishment of the First World War galleries. The IWM London was founded in 1917 to record the then still-continuing conflict.

Other activities in the four-year programme include:

  • national acts of remembrance to mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme (2016) and Armistice Day (2018)
  • two students and a teacher from each state school in England to visit the Western Front
  • projects enabling young people to conserve and share local heritage of the war.
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Candlelit vigil to mark centenary of outbreak of WW1

On 4th August 2014 it will be 100 years since war was declared, pitching the nation into one of its hardest and darkest chapters.

Ministers are due to announce how the centenary will be marked over including a candlelit vigil at Westminster Abbey finishing, with the last candle being extinguished at 11pm - the moment war was declared.

Undated file photo of British infantrymen occupying a shallow trench during the Battle of the Somme. Credit: PA/PA Wire

It is understood the Government is in talks with various churches, faiths and other organisations to see if the vigil could be replicated around the country.

The idea to commemorate the start of the war with the vigil came from a remark attributed to former foreign secretary Viscount Edward Grey.

He is supposed to have said on the eve of the Great War: "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our time."

War commemorations to centre on Westminster

Stock photo of candle Credit: Reuters

Organisers of Westminster Abbey's candle-lit vigil hope other community buildings across the country will mirror the proceedings and that thousands of candles will be blown out simultaneously across the country at 11pm.

It is believed that a wide range of groups will be invited to the Westminster vigil including the Brownies, Scouts, Guides and representatives from all services of the British military.

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