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The Terrorist Attacks against America

Windsor Flags at Half Mast
as Remembrance Services held across Europe

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Windsor Castle

Midday, Friday, 14th September 2001, and the Union Flag flies at half mast over Windsor Castle as HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles plus all UK political leaders join mourners at St Paul's Cathedral for a National Memorial Service, just three days after the horrific events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Earlier at 11.00am, the nation had stood silent for three minutes as a mark of respect. This was universely observed throughout the town with signs in almost every shop stating that the silence would be observed. As the moment arrived the town fell silent. For a moment more, just the sound of an elderly lady's walking frame heightened the poignancy of the silence. She too stopped and the stillness was now total. In the streets drivers stood by their vehicles and pedestrians bowed their heads. Children at school fell silent too.
Even though at this moment no-one knew the extent of the loss of life, we believed at the time that possibly over 5,000 people had lost their lives, or were missing. For those struggling to clear the wreckage in New York, many days, if not weeks, lay ahead of the rescue services in recovering those who had perished, lying beneath the estimated 450,000 tons of glass, rubble and steel girders that had been a symbol of American prosperity.
The day before, on Thursday, at Buckingham Palace in London during the Changing of the Guard, the American National Anthem had been played and a two minute silence observed. Prince Andrew, The Duke of York was present, accompanying the American Ambassador. This was an unprecedented departure from accepted Royal protocol. The Duke of York had previously experienced what so many other air travellers experienced that day when American airspace was closed and all trans-Atlantic flights either had to divert to Canada, or to return to London. The Duke was returned to London, where he immediately played his part in Royal duties associated with the disaster. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, was apparently much closer to the terrifying scenes, being on her way to The World Trade Centre at the time, preparing for a meeting about her US charity Chances for Children.
Prime Minister Tony Blair recalled Parliament on Friday 14th September, and made a statement to the packed House of Commons at 9.30am. Shortly after, he and other political leaders left to attend the service at St Paul's Cathedral. The House of Lords was also recalled.

Union Flag Parish Church

Windsor Parish Church, High Street, flies the Union Flag at half mast against a clear blue sky.

Prince Christian Victor Memorial

At the foot of the Castle walls, British and American flags are draped at the foot of the memorial to Prince Christian Victor with a handwritten message "Let there be Peace".

As with millions of others worldwide, Windsorians were stunned and shocked as the horrific events unfolded in America. Many, this writer included, just happened to catch a breaking news story on television that a light aircraft had hit the World Trade Centre in New York and there on the screen were the live pictures of the initial fire and smoke. After just a few minutes there came the incredible sight of a second aircraft apparently hitting the towers. The BBC News 24 studio commentator was stunned. He could not believe what he had seen. "Was that another aircraft?" he asked incredulously. It was.

From this moment on any thoughts of work were abandoned. Here was unfolding a story of massive significance and that a catastrophe had been visited not just upon the USA, but upon all the world. May our leaders be guided wisely in the aftermath...

The following message was placed on the Home Page of The Royal Windsor Web Site on behalf of Windsor residents.

Footnote 1. 8th February 2002: The tragedy of September 11th was followed by a small outbreak of anthrax in America, distributed through the mail. As a result postal services were severely hit. One parcel from America to Windsor, posted Air Mail on September 11th from Lower Burrel, PA, reached Windsor on February 8th 2002.

Footnote 2. September 10th 2002: As the first anniversary of the tragedy dawns, UK broadcasters are transmitting a number of programmes about the event, from a variety of aspects. The event is now known as nine one one, (in the American date format of month and day - which is coincidentally also the US Emergency phone number. Throughout this week the horrific attacks will be remembered with great sadness.

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