Remembrance Sunday is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in most towns and villages, attended by civic dignitaries, ex-servicemen and women (principally the Royal British Legion), youth organisations (e.g. Scouts and Guides), and military cadet forces (e.g. Air cadets, Army cadets and Sea cadets). Wreaths of poppies are laid on the memorials and two-minutes' silence is held at 11 a.m.
The national ceremony is held at the Cenotaph on Whitehall, London and since 2005 the women's memorial is also included. Wreaths are laid by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Duke of Kent and William of Wales; the Prime Minister, leaders of major political parties, the Foreign Secretary, the Commonwealth High Commissioners and representatives from the Army, Navy and the Royal Air Force, the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets and the Civilian Services. A two minutes' silence is held at 11 a.m., before the laying of the wreaths. The silence represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the guns of Europe fell silent. This silence is marked by the firing of a field gun on Horse Guards Parade to begin and end the silence, followed by Royal Marines buglers, playing the Last Post.
The event consists mainly of an extensive march past, with army bands playing live music, each year following the list of the Traditional Music of Remembrance (see below).
After the Ceremony, a parade of veterans, organised by the Royal British Legion, marches past the Cenotaph, each section of which lays a wreath as it passes.
The Ceremony has been televised each year by the BBC since 1946. It is the joint-longest running live televised annual event in the world, the record being shared with the Chelsea Flower Show. When first shown in 1937, it was the second ever live outside event to be broadcast, the first being the Coronation procession of George VI earlier that year.
The 1947 telerecording of the ceremony is the oldest surviving record of a broadcast of a live outside event.
From 1919 until 1945, Remembrance ceremonies were held on Armistice Day; observance was then moved to Remembrance Sunday, but, since the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995, it has become usual to hold ceremonies on both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
In 2006, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown proposed that in addition to Remembrance Sunday, a new national day to celebrate the achievements of veterans should be instituted. The "Veterans Day", to be held in the summer, would be similar to Veterans Day celebrations in the United States.
It is a polite custom to wear poppies on Remembrance Sunday. Paper poppies are sold in the weeks before the day by the Royal British Legion, in order to raise money to support ex-servicemen.
Each year, the programme of music at the National Ceremony remains the same, as follows:
Other pieces of music are then played during the unofficial wreath laying and the march past of the veterans, starting with Trumpet Voluntary.