Battle of the Somme Centenary Marked in France and Britain By The British Royals
The largest Western Front battle of World War One, the Battle of the Somme, started tomorrow on the battlefields of France 100 years ago, and members of the British Royal Family this evening attended vigils to mark the anniversary.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Sir Timothy Laurence represented Queen Elizabeth at the official vigil at the Thiepval Memorial in France, which is the memorial to the over 70,000 British Empire servicemen whose remains were never found as they fought on the Somme. Over 1,000,000 soldiers were killed during the four and a half month long battle.
Firstly viewing the vast battlefield – known as ‘No Man’s Land’ – from the top of the Sir Edwin Lutyen monument, the royal group then joined hundreds for the dusk vigil.
Prince William said that the first day of the Battle of the Somme, in which the British Army sustained over 57,000 casualties, was “in many ways the saddest day in the long story of our nation. Tonight we think of them as they nerved themselves for what lay ahead…tonight we stand here with a promise to those men. We will remember you. The gift you gave your country is treasured…the sacrifice you made will never, ever, be forgotten.”
Prince Harry then recited a poem written by Devonshire Regiment Lieutenant WN Hodgson entitled Before Action.
Meanwhile in London, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were present at a service at Westminster Abbey. A wreath was laid at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of the pair upon their arrival.
Further ceremonies will be taking place tomorrow, the precise centenary, in both France and the UK, attended by various Windsors.Filed under The United Kingdom
Tagged Anniversary, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, France, Prince Harry of Wales, The Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke of Cambridge, The Duke of Edinburgh, World War I.