Day two in Belgium saw The Prince of Wales join The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to attend commemorations at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Tyne Cot Cemetery, marking the centenary of the first day of Passchendaele.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 31, 2017
The Royals joined King Philippe and Queen Mathilde once again today, and Sir Tim – Princess Anne’s husband – was also in attendance. It’s always good to see the Royal Families assembling together especially for important commemoration events.
Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium is the largest Commonwealth burial ground in the world with 11,971 servicemen buried or remembered there – with 8,373 of them identified. Some more on the site: “On 4 October 1917, the area where Tyne Cot CWGC Cemetery is now located was captured by the 3rd Australian Division and the New Zealand Division and two days later a cemetery for British and Canadian war dead was begun. The cemetery was recaptured by German forces on 13 April 1918 and was finally liberated by Belgian forces on 28 September. After the Armistice in November 1918, the cemetery was greatly enlarged from its original 343 graves by concentrating graves from the battlefields, smaller cemeteries nearby and from Langemark. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war”.
The Cross of Sacrifice that marks many CWGC cemeteries was built on top of a German pill box in the centre of the cemetery, purportedly at the suggestion of King George V, who visited the cemetery in 1922 as it neared completion.
The King’s visit, described in the poem The King’s Pilgrimage, included a speech in which he said:
“We can truly say that the whole circuit of the Earth is girdled with the graves of our dead. In the course of my pilgrimage, I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon Earth through the years to come, than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.”
Prince Charles quoted his great-grandfather today.
Last night William spoke in front of 200 descendants who fought, and said: “During the First World War Britain and Belgium stood shoulder to shoulder. One hundred years on, we still stand together, gathering as so many do every night, in remembrance of that sacrifice.” Today, Charles echoed William’s words of unity “Drawn from many nations, we come together in their resting place… to promise that we will never forget.”
The Duchess laid a posey as William read: “A Soldier of The Great War Known Unto God.
Four Belgium Defence F16’s fly the Missing Man Formation over Tyne Cot Cemetery bring the ceremony to an end.