Across Britain, people paused for a moment's silent reflection Sunday to remember the country's war dead as Queen Elizabeth II led an annual service in the capital.

The monarch was joined by other royals, senior politicians, and hundreds of veterans and well-wishers who filled the streets of Whitehall for the solemn ceremony, held every November at the Cenotaph war memorial.

A hush fell over central London as Big Ben struck 11 a.m., with all those attending — as well as millions up and down the country — observing two minutes' silence. The service takes place every year on the 11th hour on the nearest Sunday to the anniversary of the end of the First World War on Nov. 11, 1918. The day now also pays tribute to all those fallen in subsequent conflicts, including the Second World War, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The queen laid the first wreath of red poppies — a potent symbol of the First World War and remembrance throughout the Commonwealth and many other countries — at the foot of the monument. She was followed by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who was invited to the event by the queen this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of his country following the end of the Second World War.

Prince Philip, the queen's husband — and Princes William, Harry and Andrew, who have all served in the armed forces — all paid their respects. Afterward, veterans paraded down the streets as military bands played.

This year, organizers say the service was slightly shorter than in previous years so that elderly veterans do not have to stand for as long.