How the Cenotaph became a symbol of remembrance

The Cenotaph has been the centrepiece of services to remember the fallen since 1919


It was, at first, a wood-and-plaster structure designed by the architect Sir Edwin Luytens for the London Victory Parade of 19 July 1919. This was pulled down soon after.


Yet such was the public demand for a war memorial that Prime Minister Lloyd George and his cabinet decided to replace it with something more permanent, and again commissioned Luytens to come up with a design.


King George V unveiled Luytens’ iconic Portland stone structure – which is inscribed with the words ‘The Glorious Dead’, two wreaths and the dates of the First World War – in London’s Whitehall on 11 November 1919. The Cenotaph has been the site of the annual National Service of Remembrance ever since.