One year since lockdown: Nation falls silent and shines a light as it remembers COVID victims

People across the UK have observed a minute’s silence to remember victims of the pandemic on the anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown.

The Queen has reflected on the “grief and loss felt by so many” as she led tributes, sending a message to the hospital where the Duke of Edinburgh had heart surgery.

“As we look forward to a brighter future together, today we pause to reflect on the grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many people and families, and pay tribute to the immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year,” the Queen said.

Members of staff places flowers near the statue of Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole during a ceremony to observe a minute's silence at St Thomas' Hospital, central London, during the National Day of Reflection on the anniversary of the first national lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Picture date: Tuesday March 23, 2021.
Members of staff places flowers at St Thomas’ Hospital, central London
Healthcare workers and staff members observe a minute of silence during the day of reflection to mark the anniversary of Britain's first coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, in London, Britain, March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson
Healthcare workers and staff members observe a minute of silence

The note, along with the bouquet of irises, tulips, mixed narcissi and ranunculus, was carried to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the city of London from Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Prince Philip have been staying during the pandemic.

Across the country, Britons marked the anniversary of Boris Johnson’s first lockdown with a minute’s silence in memory of those who have died during the pandemic.

Mark Turnbull, Terry Renshaw, Harry Chadwick, Eileen Turnbull, John McKinsie Jones with wife Rita McKinsie Jones and lawyer Jamie Potter, outside the The Royal Courts Of Justice, London, ahead of a hearing in the Court of Appeal for the so-called "Shrewsbury 24". 14 members are attempting to overturn their convictions for offences incurred whilst picketing building sites in Shrewsbury in the 1972 national builders' strike. Picture date: Wednesday February 3, 2021.
A minute’s silence outside the The Royal Courts Of Justice…
Minute's silence
… and in parliament

MPs and peers in both Houses of Parliament and ministers in the devolved nations marked the anniversary at midday, while cathedrals in Blackburn, Winchester, Gloucester and York Minster also fell silent.

NHS and social care workers also joined the pause for reflection.

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At 8pm people are being encouraged to stand on doorsteps with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.

The London Eye, Tate Britain, Blackpool Tower, the Scottish Parliament, Belfast City Hall and other landmarks will be lit in yellow on Tuesday evening to mark the occasion.

A year since his dramatic “stay at home” TV address to the nation, the prime minister said the past year has been one of the most difficult in the country’s history. Almost 150,000 people have died.

Marking the anniversary, the prime minister said: “The last 12 months has taken a huge toll on us all, and I offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

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“Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in our country’s history.

“We should also remember the great spirit shown by our nation over this past year.

“We have all played our part, whether it’s working on the front line as a nurse or carer, working on vaccine development and supply, helping to get that jab into arms, home schooling your children, or just by staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It’s because of every person in this country that lives have been saved, our NHS was protected, and we have started on our cautious road to easing restrictions once and for all.”

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “One year on. Thinking today of all those who have lost a loved one to COVID, and to everyone who continues to make heartbreaking sacrifices as we continue to navigate our way through this terrible ordeal, together.

“Also, many people have lost loved ones to causes other than COVID over the past 12 months.

“The restrictions in place have made the grieving process even more difficult than it would have been – my thoughts are with you too.”

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A year in lockdown

Lockdown: One Year On is a special programme marking the anniversary of the first national lockdown on Sky News at 7pm tonight