9/11 anniversary: UK leaders pay tribute to victims of attacks on 20th anniversary

In a message to the US President Joe Biden, The Queen said her visit to the site of the World Trade Centre in 2010 is “held fast in my memory”.

UK leaders have marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks by praising the international resolve that has grown from the Al-Qaeda-led tragedy.

In a defiant message to be played a memorial event at the Olympic Park in east London on Saturday (11 September), the Prime Minister said the threat of terrorism remained but people refused to live their lives in “permanent fear”.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • The Queen, Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer have marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks by praising the global resolve that has grown since the tragic events.
  • In a message to the US President Joe Biden, The Queen said her visit to the site of the World Trade Centre in 2010 is “held fast in my memory”.
  • A video message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be played at a memorial event at the Olympic Park.
  • Mr Johnson praised the global resolve that has come from the attacks, saying: “The fact that we are coming together today – in sorrow but also in faith and resolve – demonstrates the failure of terrorism and the strength of the bonds between us,” 
  • President Joe Biden will visit three attack sites to mark the anniversary. He will begin his day in New York to attend a ceremony at the World Trade Centre, he will then travel to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Flight 93 crashed. He will end his day in Washington DC to visit the Pentagon. 
Flowers laid in the September 11 Memorial Garden in Grosvenor Square, London (PA)

What’s been said?

In a message to the US President Joe Biden, The Queen said: “As we mark the 20th anniversary of the terrible attacks on September 11 2001, my thoughts and prayers, and those of my family and the entire nation, remain with the victims, survivors and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty.

“My visit to the site of the World Trade Centre in 2010 is held fast in my memory.

“It reminds me that as we honour those from many nations, faiths and backgrounds who lost their lives, we also pay tribute to the resilience and determination of the communities who joined together to rebuild.”

In the prime minister’s address, which will be played at a memorial event at the Olympic Park in east London on Saturday, he said recent events in Afghanistan had only strengthened people’s belief in freedom and democracy.

"Twenty years ago, September 11 2001 became, in President Roosevelt’s words after Pearl Harbor, a ‘date which will live in infamy’," he said.

"On a crystal clear morning, terrorists attacked the United States with the simple goal of killing or maiming as many human beings as possible, and by inflicting such bloodshed in the world’s greatest democracy, they tried to destroy the faith of free peoples everywhere in the open societies which terrorists despise and which we cherish."

He said that "precisely because of the openness and tolerance of the United States" almost every nationality and religion were among those murdered that day.

"But while the terrorists imposed their burden of grief and suffering, and while the threat persists today, we can now say with the perspective of 20 years that they failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy; they failed to drive our nations apart, or cause us to abandon our values, or to live in permanent fear."

Labour leader Sir Keir said the consequences of the attacks were “still being felt to this day”, adding the tragedy was “still so raw”.

He said: “But as we mark this anniversary I’m convinced our resolve has never been stronger.

“We will continue to fight terror and violence, by promoting our values of justice and peace.”

Nicola Sturgeon has paid tribute to the victims of September 11 on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks.

The First Minister posted on Twitter: “No-one old enough to remember will ever forget where they were, and the sense of utter disbelief, as the horror of 9/11 unfolded.

“20 years on, my thoughts are with all the victims of those horrific terror attacks – those who died and those left behind to grieve.”

Background

Saturday marks 20 years since the events of 11 September, 2001.

A total of 2,977 people died in the terror attacks, including 67 Britons.

The attacks, which were planned by al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, saw four US passenger jets seized by suicide attackers - two of which were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

Another plane crashed into the Pentagon, just outside the US capital, Washington DC, and a fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back.

A private service of remembrance has been organised by the September 11 UK Families Support Group, and will be held at Grosvenor Square in central London.