Why does the Queen wear five poppies for Remembrance Day and what do they mean?

Each one holds a special meaning
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  • Despite spending lockdown at Windsor Castle with the Duke of Edinburgh, it would have come as no surprise to many that the Queen made her traditional appearance at the moving private Remembrance Service that took place yesterday.

    Held at the Cenotaph, the Queen could be seen paying her respects from a balcony whilst Prince Charles laid a remembrance wreath on her behalf. 

    As in previous years, the Queen dressed in black, with five red poppies pinned to her coat. Now many people are wondering exactly why our monarch chose to wear this particular amount of the symbolic flower.

    Why does the Queen wear five poppies?

    Remembrance Day

    The specific reason the Queen wears this many poppies has never been officially confirmed by Buckingham Palace or the Royal Family. However, there are a range of theories as to why.

    The most widely accepted of these is that each poppy represents a different branch of the armed forces.

    This would mean that the Queen is wearing one each for the Navy, Army, Air Force, Civil Defence and women. 

    Is it only the Queen who wears multiple poppies?

    The Queen was not alone, as both Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge also wore multiple poppies. Camilla pinned her three poppies with a silver brooch, whilst Kate used a fourth poppy as her brooch to do so. 

    View this post on Instagram

    On #RemembranceSunday The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined The Queen and Members of the Royal Family for the annual Remembrance Day Service at The Cenotaph. This year the @RoyalBritishLegion encouraged us all to to take to our windows and doorsteps for a two minutes’ silence at 11am on Sunday November 8, to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom. Swipe to see more from across the UK: Image 3: Merchant Navy veteran Bill Bennett, 94, wears his medals whilst at his home in Kidderminster. Image 4: D-Day veteran Jim Healy, 95, from Manchester. Jim was a Corporal in the Royal Marines and was coxswain of a landing craft assault on June 6, 1944. Image 5: Veteran Charlie MacVicar, who served for 23 years with the Royal Scots, at the Royal British Legion Remembrance Garden in Grangemouth. Image 6: A camera phone is set up to film and live-stream a closed and socially distanced remembrance service at Exeter Cathedral. Image 7: Seymour 'Bill' Taylor, 95, from Colchester in Essex, who served as an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy onboard HMS Emerald during the D-Day landings joins neighbours in the street to observe the two minutes silence. Image 8: The National Memorial Arboretum, where a virtual Act of Remembrance from the Armed Forces Memorial was broadcast online.

    A post shared by Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@kensingtonroyal) on

    This brooch Kate wore was a code-breaking poppy. This may perhaps have been worn to honour her grandmother Valerie Glassborow who worked at Bletchley Park in signal intelligence during the war. 

    The exact reason for the duchesses’ choice of 3 poppies has also not been revealed. However it is very possible that they wear this many to pay tribute to the three branches of the UK military – the Air Force, Navy and Army. 

    What does the colour of poppies mean?

    We immediately think of the red poppy as the symbol of Remembrance Day. This is certainly the most famous poppy symbol and is used to commemorate those who lost their lives in war and as a show of support for the armed forces. 

    However there are other colours of poppy too:

    • The black poppy represents African, Black and Caribbean communities and their contributions to the war effort.
    • The white poppy is worn in remembrance of those who died in war, with a focus on peace.
    • A purple poppy is worn in honour to remember all the animals that died as victims of war.

    Whichever colour and however many poppies you choose to wear, it is important to remember the importance of this symbol.

    As Remembrance Day approaches this Wednesday 11th November, don’t forget to spare a moment to think of all those who lost their lives defending our country.