The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Manchester last Tuesday, where the couple attended the official opening of Manchester Arena bombing memorial, named the Glade of Light.
The Glade of Light memorial site was created to provide a ‘tranquil place’ of ‘remembrance and reflection’ for families and friends of those who tragically lost their lives in the tragic attack. The memorial garden is situated centrally in the city, next to the cathedral, and features plants that grow naturally in the British countryside, selected to provide year-round colour, and echo the changing seasons.
Prince William gave a speech and opened it by highlighting the importance that he and his wife attended the opening, to remember the lives ‘brutally taken’ and ‘to acknowledge the hundreds of lives that were irrevocably changed and to pay tribute to the resilience of the great City’.
“I remember only too well the shock and grief on the faces of those I met when I visited Manchester in the days following the atrocity,” the Duke commented. “And the rawness of emotion at the Commonwealth Service, held at your Cathedral just here, a year later. Five years on I know that the pain ad trauma felt by many, has not gone away.”
The Duke even touched on his own grief after the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. He stated ‘that what often matters most to be the bereaved is that those we have lost are not forgotten’.
William continued to note how ‘there is comfort in remembering’.
“In acknowledging that, while taken horribly soon, they lived. They changed our lives. They were loved, and they are loved. It is why memorials such as the Glade of Light are so important.”
The Duke of Cambridge unveiled a memorial in Kensington Palace gardens for his mother last year.
He hoped the Glade of Light memorial is ‘a place of solace for the families, the injured and all those affected. A place for Mancunians and visitors alike to acknowledge what the City went through. It is a counter to the violence and hateful disregard for human life that cause this tragedy’.
“I hope that this beautiful, tranquil space which, for all the challenges, I know many of you were involved in shaping, will provide all of this and more for generations to come. Catherine and I know that the atrocity’s impact will last a lifetime and beyond, and that the healing process is still on-going.
“We want to assure all of you who are struggling that you are very much in our thoughts. We stand with you as you continue on that difficult journey.”
Concluding his speech, HRH wanted ‘to acknowledge all the lives changed that day’ such as the injured, both physically and mentally, the first responders, the NHS Staff and those who were in or around the Arena, and who provided care and first aid.
“And we remember the entirety of the Manchester community who responded in the most heart-warming and life-affirming ways possible to support those affected. This was an attack that has given the world so many songs to sing.”
The royal couple then took a walk around the memorial garden, where Catherine laid a bouquet of white and blue flowers.
After giving a speech to mark the opening, William and Catherine met privately with families inside nearby Manchester Cathedral after the opening event. They were also joined by some of the survivors of the attack.
For the occasion, The Duchess of Cambridge wore earrings which featured a bee, the emblem of Manchester. The bee was added to Manchester’s coat of arms in the mid-19th century and represents the industrial heritage of the region.
It has been used as a symbol of strength following the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017.