The Royal British Legion (RBL)has said it is ‘not surprised’ a white poppy wreath was taken from the Lewes War Memorial as it was ‘offensive’.
Deputy Mayor of Lewes, Imogen Makepeace, laid a wreath of white poppies at the Lewes cenotaph as part of a VJ commemoration service. However, the wreath was taken from its plinth later the same day.
Jack Neil, chairman of the RBL Lewes, said: “The Royal British Legion Lewes was grateful to the Deputy Mayor for attending the ceremony. We were not aware, however, that she intended to lay a white poppy wreath. This is at odds with our protocol, which caused offence to many at such a significant event.
“Had we known of the Deputy Mayor’s intentions, we would have told her the correct protocol. She was obviously unaware of the protocol as she hasn’t attended a Remembrance ceremony before.
“The protocol is ‘regardless of rank, status or position, no one will be allowed to make personal or political statements at Remembrance events’. The laying of white or purple wreaths is not permitted during these ceremonies. The legion does not embrace the concept of white poppies.
“Judging from the amount of correspondence I have received complaining about this, I am not at all surprised a member of the public removed the wreath the same day. Mrs Makepeace seems to be unaware how many people she has offended by this act.
“The fact the town of Lewes consistently contributes more towards the poppy appeal than any other town in the county shows the support for the legion and the services.
“The RBL Lewes would like to apologise to those offended by the laying of this white poppy wreath. We will speak to the Town Council to ensure protocol is followed in future.”
Deputy Mayor Imogen Makepeace said: “I acknowledge the manner in which the white poppy wreath was laid has caused offence to some. This was not my intention.
“I have huge respect for the men and women serving in all wars, doing a difficult and unpleasant job and sometimes being required to pay the ultimate sacrifice. I felt honoured to represent the Town Council in laying a wreath of red poppies in their remembrance.
“I am sorry the protocol of the Royal British Legion Lewes was breached in this respect, and I hope for future ceremonies, we can reach agreement as to how the white poppy can be incorporated into public acts of remembrance.”
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