The Queen reflected on the “grief and loss felt by so many” in a poignant tribute and a minute’s silence was held at noon. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the vaccination centre at Westminster Cathedral and left floral tributes. At 8pm, people stepped outside to join a doorstep vigil with candles, lanterns and torches, showing solidarity with the bereaved.
Landmarks including the London Eye, Blackpool Tower and Cardiff Castle were bathed in yellow light, creating a “beacon of remembrance” across the UK.
The National Day of Reflection, organised by Marie Curie and supported by the Daily Express, honoured more than 600,000 who have passed away in the past 12 months of all causes, including over 126,000 Covid-19 victims.
The Queen sent flowers to staff who cared for Prince Philip at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, where the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh underwent heart surgery earlier this month.
And in her poignant message the monarch, 94, said: “As we look forward to a brighter future together, we pause to reflect on the grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many people and families, and pay tribute to the immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year.”
Chief executive Professor Charles Knight paid tribute to Barts’ staff and said: “I am in awe of you.”
Marie Curie nurse Clare Horgan, who provides end-of-life care, said: “I know how important today will be for those going through bereavement. We hope it will provide everyone with time and space to reflect.”
One family in grief were Rebecca Govier and daughters Audrey, seven, and Madison, four, of Dormansland, Surrey, who lost their father Dean to cancer.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it had been “probably the hardest year in a generation”.
Boris Johnson offered condolences to those who had lost loved ones and praised the “great spirit shown by our nation” and lit a lantern at No 10.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Our thoughts are with families and loved ones. And we thank our heroic NHS staff who have worked so hard.”