The BBC marks Remembrance Week 2023
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Events around the world over the past year have reminded us that we can never take peace for granted.
So, tonight’s Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance will have an added poignancy as we reflect on the sacrifices the military have made for our freedom.
The ceremony comes from the Royal Albert Hall, where Clare Balding is acting as host and the audience includes His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla as well as other members of the Royal Family.
There will also be a starry line up of performers, including British soul legend Mica Paris and popstar Calum Scott, Festival favourite Alfie Boe, singer-songwriter Katie Melua and chart-topping DJ-duo Sigma featuring Morgan.
Proving that this is an event that appeals to all ages, there will be appearances from Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery, who in 2019, at the age of 89, became the oldest-ever winner of Britian’s Got Talent, and another BGT favourite, 14-year-old opera-singing sensation Malaki.
There will also be military music from the Band of HM Royal Marines and the Band of The Royal Airforce Regiment.
In between the performances, there are some significant anniversaries to mark, including one that will be close to Colin Thackery’s heart – it’s 70 years since the end of the Korean War.
It’s a conflict in which many national servicemen fought and died, but their sacrifice has sometimes been overlooked, with some people even dubbing it the ‘forgotten war’. That will be put right tonight.
It’s also eighty years since The Battle of the Atlantic, the longest military campaign of the Second World War, and veteran from both conflicts will be in attendance.
This year has seen numerous documentaries and events marking the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush’s arrival in Britain. The Festival is also marking this landmark by paying tribute to the extraordinary contribution the Windrush generation made to the military.
Although the Festival will be looking to the past, there will also be time to celebrate currently serving military personnel. Viewers will learn about the remarkable work of the British Army Chaplains in training their Ukrainian counterparts.
While being in the military may be tough, it can also be difficult for the families of servicemen and women left at home. They will get a tribute tonight, as they are thanked for the essential role they play in supporting their loved ones.
Past and present military personnel will come together to be honoured for their service and dedication in defending our freedoms and way of life, and as is traditional, the Festival will end with falling petals, as the audience and viewers at home remember victims of war and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The commemorations continue tomorrow on BBC1 with Remembrance Sunday: The Cenotaph (10.15am). David Dimbleby presents live coverage from Whitehall, while Sophie Raworth hears the remarkable stories of some of the people marching. There will be another chance to see the Cenotaph ceremony on BBC2 at 6pm.