Skip to main content

Big Ben to ring out for Remembrance Sunday

9 November 2017

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

As part of the nation's Remembrance Sunday commemorations, Big Ben will chime at 11 o'clock on Sunday 12 November, live on BBC One. The Remembrance Sunday chimes are a key moment in the Parliamentary year and an important national way of honouring those who have lost their lives in conflict.

Every year, at the Service of Remembrance in London the two minute's silence is conducted with military precision. On Horse Guard's Parade, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire their First World War guns to mark the start of the silence, and on Whitehall a Corps of Army Music bugler from the Household Division marks its end at precisely the same time that the guns fire again, 120 seconds later. Ensuring the correct timing is all down to three soldiers standing next to the clock mechanism inside the Elizabeth Tower, who send radio signals to the troops on the ground.

In August, Parliament's expert team of clock mechanics disconnected Big Ben from the clock mechanism and lowered the weights to the base of the tower, resulting in the famous chimes being temporarily stopped to provide a safe environment for the people working on the scaffolding. However it has always been Parliament's intention throughout the restoration project to reconnect the bells for important national events. In advance of Remembrance Sunday, the clock mechanics will be winding up the weights and reconnecting the hammers ready for Big Ben to strike again. Big Ben and the quarter bells will then be carefully adjusted to ensure accuracy on the day.

Rt. Hon Tom Brake MP, Spokesman for the House of Commons Commission, said:

“'We cannot properly mark Remembrance Sunday without the solemn tolling of Big Ben. So millions of people around the world will be reassured to know that Big Ben's bongs will ring out across Whitehall on Sunday at 11am, helping us to commemorate our soldiers' sacrifice in the traditional way.”

Rt. Hon Keith Simpson MP, Chair of the World War One Commemoration Group said:

"Big Ben symbolises Parliament and the United Kingdom and during two world wars the sound of its chimes was recorded by so many people. It is right that for Remembrance Sunday the work on Big Ben has been suspended and it's chimes once again ring out loud and clear."