A Teenager’s Experience of Being In The Cenotaph Parade

A Teenager’s Experience of Being In The Cenotaph Parade

My youngest teenager had the honour of participating in the Cenotaph Parade for Remembrance Sunday.  A once in a lifetime opportunity, here are her memories of the day, in her own words.

  • What did it mean to you to take part in the Cenotaph Parade?

It was so humbling to be there with so many different people paying our respects and to be doing the March Past.  I hadn’t realised until I arrived just how big the whole occasion is.

  • Describe what happens when you arrive

We all had to gather in Horse Guards Parade for security checks and then after that we had to stand in a set column in ranks of 6 so that we were in the right order for the parade.  There were so many people, Army veterans, people in wheelchairs and then groups like us.  The Army people wandered around shouting instructions and there were police everywhere with guns.  We were behind the Scouts and there was a lot of banter between us.  They helped us to redo our scarves and toggles so that they were hanging properly.  I think they were teasing us actually as they had done it so many times before whereas none of us had.

  • What was the atmosphere like?

Everyone was quite excited.  It was like a celebratory atmosphere, I mean even though it is a solemn occasion, you feel really buzzy.

  • How did you feel whilst you were waiting?

I was really nervous in case I did something wrong because there are lots of things you can’t do, like smile or talk and I was really worried about tripping up.  We were told that we couldn’t look around or up towards the balconies where the Royal Family were but we just had to keep looking ahead at all times.  Also you have to look the officer in the eye on the command “Eyes Right” . I didn’t want to do anything wrong.

  • What was it like during the 2 minute silence?

I have been to our local Remembrance Services before but even with all those people it was just so quiet, there really was not a single sound.  I was thinking of keeping very still and remembering the people who had fought for us and thinking how different the world would be for us all today if they hadn’t.

  • Did you remember anyone in particular during the day?

I always think of my Great Grandfather and the stories Grandpa has told me about him and how he lost his life and the effect it had on him as a young boy and his family.  I also thought this year about all the people involved in wars today.

  • What was it like when you started marching?

It was great because everyone shouts and cheers as you walk past them and you can overhear everyone’s conversation.  I can remember hearing someone say “Oh look it is the Girl Guides, don’t they all look so smart in their uniform!” It made me feel proud.

  • What was the most exciting part of your day?

Oh gosh seeing Prince Charles.  He was doing the salute at the March Past.  We were told we could not smile at him but when I turned to look at him all I could think was “Oh my god, it’s Prince Charles, I mustn’t smile”  and then I panicked that I had maybe stared at him for too long and I think I fell out of sync with the steps for a bit.  It was so cool.

  • What is your biggest memory?

I can’t pick one.  The silence.  Then the noise of the guns during the salute – they were so loud, they really made me jump and then there was the noise of the crowd as you marched down Whitehall.  Oh and the Coldstream Guards.  I hadn’t realised just how low their hats are.  I mean they are literally over their eyes so all you see is their nose and mouth which when they are speaking to you is totally weird as it is just like the beerskin hat is talking.

  • Would you want to do it again?

It was an amazing experience, it was pretty cool actually and one I will never forget but I don’t think if I did it again it would be the same, but of course I wouldn’t say no.

  • Do you have any top tips for anyone if they are asked to do it?

Don’t stare at the Royal Family, march in time and wear 4 pairs of socks – there is alot of standing around.

Editor’s Note: The Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph Parade is organised by the Royal British Legion who this year asked the nation to Rethink Remembrance by recognising the sacrifices made not just by the Armed Forces of the past but by today’s generation too.





  1. November 25, 2016 / 9:47 pm

    This sounds amazing to have been there, it must have been a pretty emotional day too. Can’t believe you couldn’t even smile at Charles. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    • Jo
      November 25, 2016 / 10:08 pm

      Yes very funny that my daughter froze at the sight of Charles but a great day none the less. #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. November 20, 2016 / 5:12 pm

    What a great experience and a fab recount of the day – and four pairs of socks sounds like great advice. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

    • Jo
      November 21, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Yes it is always the feet that suffer in these situations isn’t it. Thanks for commenting Stephanie. #PoCoLo

  3. November 20, 2016 / 12:32 am

    What an absolutely amazing experience for your daughter, it sounds like a day she will never forget. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

    • Jo
      November 20, 2016 / 4:30 pm

      I think so too. Thanks for your comment. #bigpinklink

  4. Claire
    November 19, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    This is so sweet. I always think the silence is definitely the best part, it’s humbling. #fortheloveofblog

    • Jo
      November 19, 2016 / 5:31 pm

      You are right Claire, it is a time to put our problems in perspective isn’t it? Thanks for your comment. #fortheloveofblog

  5. Catie
    November 18, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    Oh that is so cool, I bet your daughter will never forget this experience. I loved her answers, what a caring and thoughtful girl! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ????

    • Jo
      November 19, 2016 / 9:34 am

      Thanks Catie for your lovely comment, there are some unforgettable moments in her day for sure. #ablogginggoodtime

  6. November 18, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    Wow you should be proud what an amazing experience you must have had. I would have really felt the pressure especially about not being able to look around. That’s an experience you will have for a lifetime and to remember one of the most important things in history. Well done you. Thank you for sharing at #familyfun

    • Jo
      November 18, 2016 / 4:00 pm

      She definitely will remember it not least for staring at Prince Charles for too long and panicking. I laughed so much when she told me that. I think she thought he was going to say “off with her head!” Thanks for commenting. #familyfun

  7. November 17, 2016 / 10:10 pm

    This is so lovely and enriching to read an account from someone of your daughter’s age. Her description of the parade is so descriptive brings an insight into things I wouldn’t normally think of. I.e. the feelings of the members of the parade. I particularly like that she enjoyed listening to stories of her great grandfather.
    My mother woukd often talk about her experiences of WW2 and I’m ashamed to say my family would groan & say ‘not again’ Although secretly we were proud of her & my father’s efforts

    • Jo
      November 18, 2016 / 4:03 pm

      Luckily she is still at an impressionable age when everything is interesting, cool etc – I hope it lasts for a bit longer. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  8. November 17, 2016 / 7:25 pm

    That’s some experience and so well remembered! I volunteered for Girlguiding for 10 years and rememberence sunday was always the most well attended parade. It made me proud that these girls wanted to take part in such an occasion. Well done. Thanks for linking up to #familyfun

    • Jo
      November 18, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      Wow 10 years as a volunteer is incredible. I love the Girl Guides and think they play such an important role in developing young girls outside of their school and home environment. My daughter has had some fantastic opportunities through being a part of it all. #familyfun

  9. November 17, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    What an honour for your daughter to take part in this. She sounds like she really appreciated the experience. It’s fantastic to know that teens feel this way about the soldiers who gave their lives for us.
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK

    • Jo
      November 17, 2016 / 3:44 pm

      She definitely got more out of it than I thought she would. Thanks Debbie. #BloggerClubUK

  10. November 17, 2016 / 12:30 pm

    This is just brilliant! I love the reaction to seeing Prince Charles – priceless! What a fabulous celebration to take part of. Thank you for sharing your post with us at #BloggerClubUK xx

    • Jo
      November 17, 2016 / 1:56 pm

      Yes I think that has had a lot of people chuckling – it did us when she told us. Thanks for your lovely comment. #BloggerClubUK

  11. Squirmy Popple
    November 17, 2016 / 9:17 am

    What an amazing and important event to be a part of. Love the advice about not staring at the Royal Family! #ablogginggoodtime

    • Jo
      November 17, 2016 / 10:01 am

      Ha ha yes a very important piece of advice I feel. #ablogginggoodtime

  12. November 16, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    What an amazing experience to be part of. I went to the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph a few years ago and I remember just how silent it went during the 2 minute silence. Seeing everyone march past made me feel quite emotional – to have been part of that is a wonderful thing to have done. My 5 year old just took part in her first Remembrance Sunday parade this year – who knows one day she might be part of the march past the Cenotaph 🙂 #bloggerclubuk

    • Jo
      November 16, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Oh how wonderful that she is getting involved so young. Sounds like she has the potential..here’s hoping. Thanks for your comment. #bloggerclubuk

  13. November 16, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    Aw what an amazing opportunity. The bit about the bearskin hat talking made me giggle #bigpinklink

    • Jo
      November 16, 2016 / 7:51 pm

      A bit of light relief I suppose amongst the solemnity of it all. I so got what she meant thought. Thanks for your comment. #bigpinklink

  14. stacey oakes
    November 16, 2016 / 9:23 am

    What a fabulous experience. I laid a poppy wreath when I was about 5 years old and I remember feeling so special (I’m 35 now and still remember the feeling). Nice to get an insight into the ceromony. Thanks for sharing #FamilyFun

    • Jo
      November 16, 2016 / 4:27 pm

      That is amazing that you can still remember that. We kept saying that to our daughter, you will never forget this experience it will be amazing – she didn’t believe us of course until she actually did it. #FamilyFun

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