Why does the Queen wear five poppies for Remembrance Day?

a collage of why does the Queen wear five poppies

Ever wondered why does the Queen wear five poppies? We reveal all.

The national service of Remembrance takes place every year on Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in London. Alongside the honourable war veterans and serving members of the Armed Services, are prominent politicians and of course our head of state: Queen Elizabeth II (opens in new tab) herself. Her Majesty is usually seen paying her respects from a balcony whilst Prince Charles lays a remembrance wreath on her behalf. 

In previous years, the Queen has dressed in black wearing her poppies (opens in new tab) - all five of them - pinned to her coat. But although she follows tradition by wearing the poppies on the left side (opens in new tab), many people are wondering why our monarch chooses to wear this particular amount of the symbolic flower.

Why does the Queen wear five poppies?

It is widely speculated that the Queen wears five poppies to represent a different branch of the Armed Forces: Navy, Army, Air Force, Civil Defence and Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.

Though this is the most popular theory, the question as to why the Queen wears five poppies has never been officially confirmed by Buckingham Palace or the Royal Firm (opens in new tab).

The Queen is patron of the Royal British Legion charity who runs the annual poppy appeal. And every year, the monarch attends the national Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph.

A close up of the Queen with her five poppies and Kate Middleton

The Queen and Duchess of Cambridge at the Remembrance Sunday service in 2019. (Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Both World Wars hold personal significance for Queen Elizabeth II. Her grandfather King George V was on the throne during WW1. Whilst her father King George VI was the monarch during the Second World War.

A then-19-year-old Princess Elizabeth also signed up to work in the Queen Women’s Auxiliary Territory Service during World War 2. She worked as a driver and a mechanic, and was later promoted to the role of Junior Commander. Meanwhile, her late husband Prince Philip (opens in new tab) served in the Royal Navy.

Why does Kate Middleton wear three poppies?

In last year's Remembrance Sunday service, Kate Middleton wore three poppies. Whilst no justification has been provided it could signal the UK's three military services: Navy, Army and Air Force.

Another theory that has arose is that Kate wears three poppies to honour her great-grandmother's three brothers who died in the First World War.

Kate is not alone in sporting the three poppy look, as Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall has also worn three poppies previously. Hers were fastened with a silver brooch, whilst Kate fixed hers with a poppy badge pin.

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In 2019, Kate wore a different poppy brooch altogether and this held a special tribute to a beloved family member.

Kate's paternal grandmother Valerie Glassborrow worked as one of the code-breakers at Bletchley Park and helped crack the German's enigma code during World War 2. 2019 marked the 75th anniversary of their code-breaking efforts and a special brooch was released to honour and coincide with the occasion.

Where to buy a poppy for Remembrance 2021:

You can buy your poppy online this year via the Royal British Legion's official Poppy Appeal shop (opens in new tab).

There are lots of different poppies on offer, from the traditional paper lapel poppies, to car poppies, and even sustainable and long-lasting pin badges (opens in new tab) if you’d prefer one of those. But of course your poppy doesn’t have to be red. With white poppies (opens in new tab) and other different colours commonly worn to commemorate other war casualties.

Shop now:

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Paper Poppy - £2
Show your support with the classic paper poppy. 100% of the profits from this £2 Paper Poppy will be donated to The Royal British Legion
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2021 Dated Poppy Pin - £3
For an easier application, choose the 2021 poppy pin. You'll be pleased to know that 100% of the profits from this 2021 Dated Poppy Pin will be donated to The Royal British Legion.
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Captain Sir Tom Silver Plated Poppy Pin - £29.99
Commemorating the fundraising serviceman who sadly passed in February 2021. 100% of the profits go to the Royal British Legion. And each pin comes in a presentation box with a card all about Sir Captain Tom Moore's life and military career.
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Large Pave Crystal Poppy Pin - £24.99
A stylish and elegant Remembrance brooch - with the trademark poppy displayed in a crystal design. 100% of the profits go to the Royal British Legion.
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Plastic Car Poppy - £5.49
This plastic car poppy is sized 12 x 11cm and can be fixed to your car with tie wraps (included). And of course, 100% of the profits from this car poppy will be donated to the Royal British Legion.

You’ll normally find poppies being sold at train stations, shops and cafes in the lead up to Remembrance Sunday, too. Plus your local high street and other public places.

Supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, and Aldi also tend to have poppies on sale. And it’s common for members of the Armed Forces to be outside these stores with their poppy appeal boxes for customers to get theirs whilst donating to the worthy cause.

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Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.