There were tears but also laughter as a nation remembered its Afghan heroes.
Families of the 453 service personnel who gave their lives in the Afghanistan conflict rubbed shoulders with Royalty and dignitaries in a series of moving services.
The Queen and senior members of the Royal family, including Prince Charles, Afghanistan veteran Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall, were joined by the Prime Minister David Cameron and General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the Chief of the Defence Staff, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London as they paid their own tributes to those who served in the 13-year campaign.
Then many of them mingled with relatives of the conflict victims at a reception at the Guildhall.
Both the service and the reception were attended by relatives of the six Huddersfield soldiers who lost their lives.
They were Lance Cpl Graham Shaw, of Golcar; Capt Lisa Jade Head, of Almondbury; Cpl Jake Hartley, of New Mill; Pte Daniel Wilford, of Colwersley; Pte Anton Frampton; of Longwood; and Pte Tom Wroe, of Meltham.
Prince Harry, wearing his own service medals on his number 1 dress of the Blues and Royals uniform, met fellow servicemen and women from the conflict during a reception following the St Paul’s service.
Detachments from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF, as well as two of the veterans from the conflict, marched past St Paul’s Cathedral to Guildhall, where the City of London Corporation hosted the reception to honour those who served and the families of servicemen and women who lost their lives.
The royal men all wore their military uniforms for the service while Camilla and Kate were dressed in dark outfits, Kate’s by designer Beulah.
Crowds watched five detachments, made up of serving personnel from the Army, RAF, Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, with a sixth of up to 400 veterans from the conflict, march through London.
They were joined by military bands and pipes and drums, and Charles took the royal salute.
Aircraft from the campaign, including Chinook, Apache and Sea King helicopters, as well as Hercules transport planes and Tornado attack jets, roared over the parade in their own salute.
The guests at St Paul’s Cathedral were flanked by heavy security and preceded hours earlier by police sniffer dogs.
As the service concluded, the Royal Family and other dignitaries including Prime Minister David Cameron moved to the south transept porch for Charles to lead the salute.
For members of the public standing several deep behind crowd control barriers, it represented what was likely to be one of the last glimpses they would get of a heavily pregnant Duchess of Cambridge ahead of the birth of her second child.
As Kate emerged from the service into public view, she was greeted by what sounded like a thousand starlings taking flight, as press photographers’ camera lenses repeatedly snapped open and shut.