The annual service, which sees the monument adorned with a series of flags, was held in partnership between the Council and the Royal Navy this morning (Tuesday 21 October) to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Echoing the words signalled on the flags flown on Nelson’s Ship, the flags down the side of the monument bear the message 'England expects that every man will do his duty'.
During the service, a wreath was laid at the foot of the monument and a recital of ‘Nelson’s Prayer’ was held in remembrance. A two minute silence was followed by the call of a bugler from Her Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines Scotland.
The Nelson Monument was built to be a practical building as well as a memorial to Admiral Lord Nelson, commander of theBattle of Trafalgar. A month after that battle, a fund was set up in Edinburgh for the benefit of wounded sailors, and between 1807-1816, the monument was built. It is estimated that twenty per cent of all soldiers and sailors involved were Scots, with the youngest being ten year old John Doig from Leith.
Councillor Deidre Brock, Edinburgh’s Depute Lord Provost, said she hoped the service would remind locals of the bravery of those who put their lives on the front line during the Battle of Trafalgar.
She said: “While the Battle of Trafalgar took place more than 200 years ago, Edinburgh’s striking Nelson Monument stands as a permanent reminder of the courage and sacrifice of all Scots who died in the battle.
"I’m sure lots of local people and tourists might not be fully aware of the history sitting on top of Calton Hill, but I hope that the Trafalgar Day commemorations shed light on the story of Admiral Lord Nelson, who was fatally shot during the battle.
"Adorned on the outside with flags as a reminder of Nelson’s famous message, I hope visitors feel enticed to make the trip inside the monument to learn more about the history and experience the fantastic views across the city that are on offer.”
Captain Chris Smith, the Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “I am delighted to be able to represent the Royal Navy at Nelson Monument for Trafalgar Day. The City of Edinburgh has paid tribute to Vice-Admiral Horatio Viscount Lord Nelson at this monument for more than 200 years.
"It is my honour to have been invited to join this year and our Royal Marines bugler will add greatly to the ceremonial occasion. The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, which truly broke the mould of naval warfare, crushed the French and Spanish navies and exerted the Royal Navy as the world’s supreme maritime force – Nelson himself died at the battle but was, rightly, revered as a national hero. It is fitting that, more than two centuries later, we still pay tribute to this great man.”
At the start of the battle of Trafalgar, Nelson asked his signals officer to run up a signal "Nelson confides that every man will do his duty". The officer asked to change the wording to use nine fewer flags and Nelson agreed. On Trafalgar Day we still run up the signal "England expects that every man will do his duty" on the Nelson Monument, just as it was flown on board Nelson's ship Victory on October 21st 1805.