White poppy

White poppies: why do people wear the alternative symbol of remembrance

In the run-up to Remembrance Day it is common for people to wear red poppies, but some will instead adorn a white poppy as a combined symbol of remembrance and peace.

The flowers have been distributed by the Peace Pledge Union since 1934 as an alternative commemoration symbol.

White poppies vary from their red counterparts as their purpose is to remember all victims of war including people of different nationalities.

The Peace Pledge Union emphasises that “suffering does not stop at national borders, and nor should remembrance.”

The Royal British Legion, which distributes red poppies traditionally, said that those flowers are to remember the British Armed Forces and anyone who fought alongside them.

In 2019, they adjusted the symbolism of the red poppy to remember civilian victims of war, but the British focus remained.   

Peace Pledge Union explain why you should wear the white poppy

Alongside remembrance, white poppies seek to challenge war and militarism and encourage people to question the way that war is justified and normalised in society.

According to the Peace Pledge Union, white poppies are about more than just remembering, they are a reminder of the need to prevent war from happening in the future.

They regard it as the best way to respect the victims of war and work to prevent wars occurring in the present and future.

This includes tackling the underlying causes of warfare such as poverty and inequality of resources.

A New Eco White poppy design in line with the Peace Pledge Union’s nonviolent principals has been introduced for 2022.

The new poppies will be recyclable and made from uncoated paper and printed using plant-based biodegradable inks.

White poppies are currently on sale across London in shops and cafes and they can also be purchased online.

The money raised goes towards promoting peaceful alternatives to war and campaigns against military action.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager at the Peace Pledge Union said: “We think the way we remember the past affects the way we approach the present and the future.

“It’s not that don’t believe in remembrance, it’s the very much the opposite. Through remembrance we can learn from the past to prevent wars now.”

He also explained that the war in Ukraine has given greater significance to the white poppy but that we should not forget other wars and conflicts that continue to take place such as the one in Syria. 

He added that there is an alternative national remembrance ceremony taking place in Tavistock Square, London on Sunday 13th November at 12pm. 

Visit the Peace Pledge Union’s website to check out the list of groups and individuals who distribute white poppies in their local areas.

White poppy outlets | Peace Pledge Union (

Featured Image Credit: Nankai CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Related Articles