Monday, 31 July 2017

Royal remembrances at #Passchendaele100

''Drawn from many nations, we come together in their resting promise that we will never forget''. The words of the Prince of Wales at a ceremony marking the centenary of the beginnings of the Battle of Passchendaele were moving and special.  And they came as two Royal Families came together to join their tributes to those of thousands in Belgium and around the world as the start of one of World War One's most terrible battles was marked.

Prince Charles' speech at Tyne Cot ceremony was part of a series of commemorations for the centenary of the start of Passchendaele, a battle which would last 100 days. During its course, there were hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides. On the allied side 245,000 people were either killed, injured or went missing with the number on the German side put at 215,000. All of them were remembered at two days of events in Belgium.

The commemorations began on July 30th when the King and Queen of the Belgians, along with Prince Laurent, were joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the traditional Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate organised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Princess Royal's husband, Timothy Laurence, was also present.

The royal visitors watched the ceremony with the Duke of Cambridge giving a short speech in which he said ''members of our families, our regiments, our nations, all sacrificed everything for the lives we live today''.  William then laid a wreath alongside King Philippe of the Belgians.

A reception afterwards saw the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet some of the descendants of those who fought at Passchendaele.

The last part of day one saw the royal quartet head to a special evening commemoration in Ypres which told the story of the war in the area through light and sound.

On July 31st 2017, William and Kate visited Bedford House where more than 5,000 servicemen were laid to rest. They met some of those working with the Commonwealth Ward Graves Commission to maintain the graves and tell visitors the story of what happened in World War One.

Then it was time to meet up with dad as the Prince of Wales joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a ceremony of remembrance at Tyne Cot cemetery where over 11,000 service personnel are buried - over 8,000 are unknown soldiers.


King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were also present for a moving ceremony alongside Timothy Laurence. As well as Charles' speech, William read a poem and Kate laid a posy of flowers in remembrance.

Then it was Charles turn to see how history is made real for visitors to the area. Along with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde he headed to Passchendaele Landscape where he met War Horse.

Charles then headed to Artillery Wood Cemetery where many Welsh soldiers killed in World War One are buried. He laid a wreath in remembrance of them, his words from earlier in the day still echoing.

The Prince of Wales had also joined the King and Queen of the Belgians to open the British Memorial Garden as part of the commemorations for Passchendaele, 100 years on. As Charles said, we come promise that we will never forget. Royal words that echo the sentiments of all.

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