POPPIES, candlelight and prayer will be at the heart of national events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

On August 4, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is to attend a vigil of prayer service at Westminster Abbey, when the congregation will see the light of candles extinguished one by one until the final candle goes out at 11pm.

That same night, the Royal British Legion is encouraging people across the nation to turn off their lights between 10pm and 11pm, leaving just a single light or candle burning as a symbolic reminder of the words of Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey on the eve of Britain entering the Great War: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

Special candles will be available at M&S in July.

Also on August 4, HM The Queen will attend a special service at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral, while HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will worship at Sandringham Church, and HRH The Prince of Wales will join the national service of commemoration for the Commonwealth in Glasgow, followed by a wreath-laying in George Square.

In gardens across the country, Prime Minister David Cameron has encouraged schoolchildren and families to plant poppies to mark the 100th anniversary, with packets of Royal British Legion seeds available at B&Q stores.

Meanwhile, in the North West, the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, has gathered more than 200 objects, such as photos and letters, for its major exhibition From Street to Trench: A World War that Shaped a Region, which runs until May 31, 2015.

Admission is free, see www.iwm.org.uk