Prince Harry and Meghan Markle lay crosses at the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have planted tiny crosses in the grounds of Westminster Abbey to honour the nation's war dead.

The couple paid their respects to servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice during a poignant ceremony at the Field of Remembrance.

From just two crosses, laid during the first event at the Abbey in November 1928, the field is now covered with around 70,000 symbols in more than 360 plots for regimental and other associations.

It was the Duke's seventh visit to the Field of Remembrance, having represented the Royal family at the event annually since 2013, but the first time that his wife has joined him.

The Duchess closed her eyes and bowed her head after laying her cross, clearly lost in thought.

The couple then stood silently as the Last Post was played by a bugler.

The Exhortation to Remembrance was spoken by Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis, president of the Poppy Factory, who said: "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

"At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them."

As the chimes of Big Ben rang out at 11am, a two-minute silence was observed.

The Duchess of Sussex at Westminster Abbey

The Duchess of Sussex at Westminster Abbey Max Mumby

The Duke, who served for 10 years as an Army officer, wore his Household Division ceremonial uniform whilst the Duchess was dressed in a stylish winter coat and hat.

Among the crowds were a group of men from Royal Marines 45 Commando based in Abroath, Scotland.

Major Sam Hughes, Officer commander of X Ray Company, said it was a proud moment for them to have been chosen to represent the Royal Marines at such a "hugely special event".

He added: "It’s also a very special event for me personally as I have done two tours of Afghanistan and lost men out there. My grandfather lost an arm at Anzio In Italy, my great-grandfather was injured at the Somme and my great- great- grandfather was killed at the same battle.

"Having the Duke as Captain general of the Royal Marines is a great honour. He’s of our peer group and has served on the frontline. He knows what modern theatre is like.

"His grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh was very popular and I’m sure his grandson will do a a wonderful job. He’s a great ambassador."

The Duchess of Sussex places a small cross at the Field of Remembrance

The Duchess of Sussex places a small cross at the Field of Remembrance REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The Duchess of Cornwall had been scheduled to join the Sussexes at the event but was forced to pull out due to illness.

A Clarence House spokeswoman said: "The Duchess of Cornwall has been told by her doctor to cancel her engagements owing to a chest infection which has got progressively worse over the last few days."The Duke

The Duchess also missed an event in London last night in London due to the infection.

She is hoping to be well enough to join the Sussexes and other senior royals including the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for he annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday evening.

On Wednesday, the Sussexes surprised families from the Welsh Guards, Coldstream Guards and Household Cavalry by popping into a coffee morning at the Broom Farm Community Centre, which is at the heart of an Army housing estate in Windsor.

The couple revealed that their six-month-old son Archie is beginning to crawl and has his first two teeth.

The Duke praised those who maintain a home life while their partner is away on operations and sympathised with service personnel missing out on their child's development while serving abroad.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit army families in Windsor

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit army families in Windsor Sgt Paul Randall/MoD

He said he was in awe of military families holding it together back home, adding: "It's unbelievably hard. I have so much respect and admiration for anyone who has to deal with that."

The majority of the Coldstream Guards are on exercise in Kenya and a large proportion of the Welsh Guards are coming to the end of a long deployment to the Falklands.

The Sussexes took Archie to southern Africa in September for their first official tour as a family and the Duke empathised with service personnel who are away from their children.

He added: "I can't imagine what it's like to miss so much as they change so quickly."

Army spouse Leigh Smith took her eight-year-old daughter Molly, who said: "Meghan promised not to tell anyone that I was off school. She asked me who my best friend was."

Coldstream Guards welfare officer Captain Colin Lewis said the visit was a welcome tonic after a tough 18 months.

The officer said: "The regiment are really appreciative of the support the families provide by picking up the burden when the service person is away.

"It's great for the Duke and Duchess to take the time to truly understand the challenges they face."

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