The greatest day in the world’s history

Crowds at Buckingham Palace on 11 Nov 1918
© IWM Q 56642

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, an unprecedented chapter in world history was brought to a close as the Armistice came into effect, ending the bloodshed of the First World War. In an instant, four years of relentless warfare, which had reshaped the geopolitical landscape and taken millions of lives, ceased. In London that day, the Royal Family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace a number of times as thousands gathered in the Mall to celebrate the news, their faces alight with a mix of jubilation and reflective relief. In her diary that evening, Queen Mary, the Queen Consort to King George V, took to her diary to document the day’s momentous scenes.

The Diary Entry

11 Nov 1918

Dull first, rain in the afternoon. The greatest day in the world’s history. The armistice was signed at 5am & fighting ceased at 11. Uncle Arthur came to breakfast, & at 11. we went on to the balcony to greet the large crowd which had formed outside. At 12.30. we went out again & the massed bands of the Guards played the National Anthem & patriotic songs, & the anthem of the Allies. Huge crowds & much enthusiasm. At 3.15 we drove to the City in the pouring rain & had a marvellous reception. The members of the family came to tea & then some WAACS, WRENS etc. came & sang patriotic songs. So nice of them. The Prime Minister came to see us at 7. Uncle Arthur & Patsy came to dinner, afterwards we went on to the balcony, the band played popular songs, & we had another wonderful scene. A day full of emotion & thankfulness – tinged with regret at the many lives who have fallen in this ghastly war.

Further Reading

Queen Mary’s diaries have never been published in full. However, many entries can be found in James Pope-Hennessy’s biography, Queen Mary, which can be read at the Internet Archive.


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