Friday, 1 July 2016

Royal Remembrance on the eve of Somme 100

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince Harry at a twilight vigil remembering those killed and wounded at the Battle of the Somme 
(photo Kensington Royal Twitter)

It was the biggest battle of World War One, lasting for five months and leaving over a million dead or wounded. As the world prepares to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Royal Family has attended services in London and in France to mark the eve of the anniversary.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh took part in a simple and moving ceremony at Westminster Abbey to remember those killed at the start of an overnight vigil.

Through the last hours of June 30th, into the twilight and while the sun slept, people from around the UK took it in turns to stand with bowed heads at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to remember all those who, a century ago, would go into battle at the Somme and never come home.

At the start of the remembrance and the vigil, the Queen laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and bowed her head in silence. A cluster of red roses and a simple card were left to show that millions still remember.

There was a vigil, too, in France at the Thiepval memorial in Somme, Picardie. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry attended a solemn service there with both men giving readings.

The Duke of Cambridge read the words of Sebastian Faulks including the quote ''we lost the flower of a generation''.  Prince Harry read from W N Hodgson's 'Before Action' which was written just before the start of the Somme. W N Hodgson died on the first day of the battle.

William, Kate and Harry took part in the twilight vigil at the memorial which was built to commemorate over 70,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed at the Somme who have no known grave. For the first time, the rows of headstones there were lit and the brightness around them glowed deeper and deeper as the light of a summer's night faded and the vigil to remember entered darkness.

There will be more events today marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme as, one hundred years on, we all remember.

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