“The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, 3 August 1914.
Tonight – Monday 4 August – marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. There have been commemoration ceremonies across the country. Tonight, between 10pm and 11pm, we were encouraged to switch out our lights and leave one light or a candle burning. On Whitehall, at the centre of government, the lights were out with one central light lit at the Treasury.
There was no central ceremony for Londoners and some people had gathered at the Cenotaph for a very moving candlelit vigil.
As Big Ben struck 11, there was complete silence and stillness among those gathered.
It’s a shame that the traffic kept moving. But perhaps it was fitting too – those millions of people died so that life could go on.
I am proud that Londoners, in the absence of a central formal ceremony for everyone, took it upon themselves to mark the occasion.