Remembering the Somme, 100 years on


Royalty and Presidents stand side by side at the 100th anniversary commemorations of the start of the Battle of the Somme
(photo Clarence House Twitter)

One hundred years on, it was time to remember. On July 1st 2016, exactly a century on from the moment that the Somme started, royalty joined millions of others in commemorating the start of what would be the worst battle of World War One. 


The main commemoration took place at Thiepval, beginning at noon on July 1st 2016. The Battle of the Somme had begun at 7.30am on July 1st 1916 - royalty and presidents took their places a century on from the mid point of that first day of fighting. One hundred years earlier, thousands were already dead by that point in the battle.



The Prince of Wales led the British Royal Family at the event. He was accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Timothy Laurence and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester also attended.





They took part in a sombre and contemplative ceremony and as if in sympathy for the sadness that was palpable as the loss of so many lives was remembered, the weather turned from grey to wet and the rain tumbled down. The Prince of Wales stood beneath the falling drops and gave a reading. There were poignant scenes as royal heads were bowed in remembrance.





The Duchess of Cornwall's great uncle, Harry Cubitt, was killed at the Somme when he was just 24 years old. Camilla and Charles found his grave and laid a posy for him before standing before the simple stone to honour his memory.


 



The Prince of Wales also laid a wreath at the Beaumont-Hammel Newfoundland Memorial during a ceremony organised by the Canadian government.




On the same day, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry officially opened the new Thiepval Museum which tells the history of the battles that made up the Somme and which dominated the French countryside for five months in 1916.


 


 The royals wore poppies and cornflowers, a symbol of remembrance in France. And July 1st 2016 was all about remembering the Battle of the Somme.

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