Extinction Rebellion protesters have sparked fury after storming the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day to hold a rally.

The controversial environmental group were filmed walking over wreaths to the fallen soldiers before unveiling a banner reading: “Honor Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War.”

It took place just hours before the two-minute silence at 11am today, which also marks 100 years since the memorial in Whitehall, central London, was erected.

Former private Donald Bell led the protest at 8am and held his own two-minute silence.

He was then seen walking over the various tributes before placing his banner on top of the wreaths laid by royals and politicians over the weekend.

Donald Bell placing the XR wreath on the Cenotaph
Donald Bell placing the XR wreath on the Cenotaph

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the banner was removed as soon as they became aware of it, roughly 30 minutes after it was erected. No arrests have been made but officers are investigating any breaches of coronavirus restrictions.

On the Extinction Rebellion’s website, the group claimed that “speaking up about consequences of unchecked warning is an act of remembrance.”

But the stunt has been met with widespread anger from war veterans, politicians and social media users.

And Bell, 64, who survived a car bomb in Northern Ireland in 1974, admitted he knew his actions would spark anger.

The group unfurling a banner in front of the Cenotaph
The group unfurled a banner in front of the Cenotaph

“I knew that I would be accused of being disrespectful and hated by many for speaking out in this way,” he said.

“Remembrance Day is never an easy time for veterans and this was not an easy decision for me to make.

“But I served this country, I served the people of this country and the action I took today is about just that.

“Unchecked climate change means a return to a world at war. I cannot stand by and let that happen. It is my duty to act.”

The stunt has sparked outrage
The stunt has sparked outrage

A spokesman for The Royal British Legion said that, while the right of others to express their opinions within the law should be respected, “we believe the Poppy Appeal is a time for Remembrance and not for political protest”.

Meanwhile, Victoria Cross holder Johnson Beharry told the Sun the protesters were “disrespecting our fallen”.

And Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who served with Royal Green Jackets said the eco-warriors risk alienating people with the stunt.

“While many will support their cause, their tactics deployed here could easily backfire, which is a shame, given it is something that all nations including Britain will turn their attention to with us hosting COP26 [the climate forum],” he told the Telegraph.

“The importance of what the Cenotaph stands for is that pivotal and iconic representation of the sacrifice that has been given for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Social media was also awash with angry comments from viewers, with many calling the actions of Extinction Rebellion “shameful”.