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Britain calls 'Lights Out' for WWI tribute

Big Ben strikes 2300 hours as the lights are turned off on iconic buildings as the city marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War On on August 4, 2014 in London, England. Monday 4th August marks the 100th anniversary of Great Britain declaring war on Germany. In 1914 British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith announced at 11 pm that Britain was to enter the war after Germany had violated Belgium neutrality. The First World War or the Great War lasted until 11 November 1918 and is recognised as one of the deadliest historical conflicts with millions of causalities. A series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary are taking place throughout the day. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

Britain calls 'Lights Out' for WWI tribute

Lights across Britain switched off for an hour on Monday night in a tribute to the dead of World War One inspired by the prophetic observation of Britain's foreign minister on the eve of war 100 years ago.

"The lamps are going out all over Europe," Edward Grey told an acquaintance, shortly before Britain declared war on Germany on Aug. 4, 1914. "We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

British landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral, went dark from 10 p.m. local time (2100 GMT), and Prime Minister David Cameron had asked Britons to switch off all but a single light in their homes for an hour.

The "war to end all wars" spread carnage across Europe, especially northern France and Belgium, killing 17 million soldiers and civilians in 1914-18. Over one million of the dead were soldiers from Britain and its then empire.

Grey's prophecy was also at the center of a service in London's Westminster Abbey later on Monday, where candles went out one by one until only a burning oil lamp remained at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

At 11 p.m., the lamp was extinguished, marking the exact time the British Empire joined the war. In Trafalgar Square, one single light shone from an old police box.

Acting as beacon for the capital, a monumental pillar of light beamed into the clouds from Victoria Tower Gardens. Installation "spectra" by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural program for the centenary, and will fade away as the sun rises over the London skyline on Aug. 11. (REUTERS)

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