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Trump criticised for missing war graves visit due to weather

Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson is among those who have criticised the US president for pulling out of a visit to a war cemetery due to “bad weather”.

Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames wrote on Twitter: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate Donald Trump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen.”

The president cancelled his visit to Belleau Wood about 55 miles (80km) east of Paris on Saturday afternoon.

He had planned to join world leaders in marking 100 years since the Armistice that ended the First World War but the White House blamed “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather”.

Weather was reportedly light steady rain with low cloud and it is thought this prevented the presidential helicopter from travelling to the site.

Instead, a delegation was sent including chief of staff General John Kelly and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Joe Dunford.

Former soldier and defence minister responsible for veterans’ affairs Tobias Ellwood re-tweeted the Sky News coverage of the story, commenting: “As a dual national I’m sorry to read this.

“Rain was a regular feature on the Western Front. Thankfully it did not prevent our brave heroes from doing their job.”

Fellow Tory MP Tracey Crouch replied: “I’m pretty certain it won’t stop my cubs, rainbows, beavers, brownies, scouts and guides turning out tomorrow.”

There was also criticism in the US, including from David Frum, who served as a speechwriter to former president George W Bush.

He said: “It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary – and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.”

Ben Rhodes, who was deputy national security adviser to former president Barack Obama, said Mr Trump’s decision was “a remarkable insult to our allies” and that he was “blowing off honouring American servicemen who died for us”.

He added: “I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for eight years. There is always a rain option. Always.”

Mr Macron and Ms Merkel in the railway carriage where the Armistice was signed
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Mr Macron and Ms Merkel in the railway carriage where the Armistice was signed
Mr Macron and Ms Merkel at a cemetery in France
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Mr Macron and Ms Merkel spent a big part of the day together marking the occasion

The leaders of France, Germany and Canada managed to travel to various commemorations in France marking a century since the end of the war that killed almost 10 million soldiers and many more civilians.

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel went inside a replica of the train where the Armistice was reached and wrote their names in a guestbook.

Mr Trump is scheduled to visit a different US cemetery near Paris on Sunday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also in France, where he paid homage to veterans at a First World War memorial in the north of the country.

He walked among the gravestones at the Canadian Cemetery number 2, where 820 casualties are buried.

Sky News will have coverage from London on Armistice Day
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Sky News will have coverage from London on Armistice Day

Memorial events will be held across the world on Sunday to mark 100 years to the day since the guns fell silent.

In London, Big Ben will strike even though the clock tower has been undergoing conservation works, and the bell has not been rung.

It will sound 11 times at 11am on Sunday, and a further 11 times at 12.30pm, in time with bells across the UK and worldwide.

The Queen and members of the Royal Family will attend a service of commemoration at the Cenotaph in London.

She will also attend a service at Westminster Abbey, accompanied by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent.

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