Armed Forces Day in the U.K. on June 26 marks a special day for the country’s sovereignty and its interests. Each year, noteworthy and outstanding parades and marches are organized at the country’s landmarks. Even though Armed Forces Day is an official event, it is not a public holiday as businesses and offices remain open. One of the goals of the day is to recognize the services and sacrifices of the country’s forces. The soldiers and cadets train day-in and day-out to protect the citizens of their country from all sorts of dangers. Their efforts are lauded by everyone, including politicians and celebrities. Another aim of the day is to raise funds for those injured in the line of duty.
History of Armed Forces Day (U.K.)
Armed Forces Day in the U.K. initially started as Veterans’ Day in 2006. Veterans’ Day was considered an extension of Veterans Awareness Week. This first Veterans’ Day was a series of events that were kickstarted at the Imperial War Museum, which was founded in London in 1917 to recognize the British Empire’s efforts during WW1. The day was commemorated by James Gordon Brown, who served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the prime minister, and the leader of the Labor Party from 2007 to 2010. Veterans’ Day celebrated the living veterans and their families. It was later on in 2009 that the name of Veterans’ Day was changed to Armed Forces Day as a way of recognizing and rewarding all branches of the forces.
Some of the celebrations include military parades and stage performances. In 2010, the main events were held in Cardiff. A military parade, which was led by the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) and the Duchess of Cornwall (Princess Camilla), covered the area from Cardiff Castle to Cardiff Bay. Cardiff’s waterfront also had many other performances, which included the land, sea, and air as the stages. Every year, the main events are hosted by a different city, but the armed forces’ message remains the same — they reiterate their pledge to protect the U.K. and all of its dependent territories. Highly trained forces are always ready to be deployed to face and fight any challenges. The forces are also present to provide aid in times of natural disasters or to de-escalate a dangerous situation. Pacifist and antiwar groups regularly challenge Armed Forces Day, however, as they believe it normalizes violence and militarism in civilian lives.
Armed Forces Day (U.K.) timeline
The Imperial War Museum is established in London to recognize the British Empire’s efforts during WW1.
The U.K. celebrates the first Veterans’ Day as a way of recognizing the country’s veterans.
Veterans’ Day is changed to Armed Forces Day to honor all active-duty forces.
Chatham, Kent, located in South East England, becomes the first city to host all the main events of Armed Forces Day.
The pacifist NGO Peace Pledge Union describes Armed Forces Day as growing ‘everyday militarism’ in civilian lives.
Celebrations are held in Cardiff and led by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Armed Forces Day (U.K.) FAQs
When does the Armed Forces Day for the U.K. take place?
The Armed Forces Day (U.K.) falls on June 26 every year.
What happens on Armed Forces Day (U.K.)?
Many events, parades, and performances take place on Armed Forces Day (U.K.). It is a day to honor and support the men and women serving in the Armed Forces. Organizations also hold fundraisers to help those injured in the line of duty.
Is Armed Forces Day (U.K.) the same as Veterans' Day?
Armed Forces Day (U.K.) was originally known as Veterans’ Day. The latter honored the living veterans for their services. However, a change of name led to all of the actively serving armed forces being honored too.
How To Observe Armed Forces Day (U.K.)
Go to the main events
Plan a trip to the city in which the main events are taking place to watch the parades and the performances. If you cannot visit that city, try participating in the events taking place in your city.
Appreciate the armed forces
The armed forces are on duty 365 days a year. It is through their services that we can live peacefully. Show your appreciation for them by learning about their history and the different ways they help civilians throughout their service period.
Host an event
If you cannot visit any of the events, you can host one, either virtually or physically. Invite your social circle to raise awareness and donations for the sake of the armed forces.
5 Facts About The U.K. Armed Forces That Will Blow Your Mind
The Royal Marines’ training course is vigorous
The Royal Marines must pass a 30-mile speed march in order to complete their training course.
Some army mascots are animal characters
Some units in the army use animals as their mascots, with one mascot being a ram called Private Derby.
Celebrities have served in the army
Celebrities like Ian Flemming, author of “James Bond,” have served in the Royal Navy.
Underage soldiers in WW1
During WW1, soldiers had to be at least 19 to be able to serve in the army, but many soldiers lied about their ages, and the youngest soldier was discovered to be only 12!
A dentist in the Navy
A dentist aboard a Royal Navy ship is called a ‘fang-farrier.’
Why We Love Armed Forces Day (U.K.)
It’s a celebration of armed forces
Armed forces and their services are indispensable. They are needed for a nation to reach new heights of progress without everyone worrying about their safety. Armed forces provide us with help and protection in times of danger from terrorists, enemies, and natural disasters.
It’s a celebration of sovereignty
Protection of sovereignty ensures full care being given to civilians. There’s always the danger of outside forces invading a nation for their own interests. Armed forces ensure this does not happen by being vigilant 24/7.
It’s a celebration of a happy life
Peace of mind and life are some of the most basic foundations that must be present in order to lead a happy life. Armed forces providing us with protection allow us to breathe easy and go about our lives without the worry of external and internal dangers.
Armed Forces Day (U.K.) dates