William commemorates the Battle of Messines Ridge in Belgium

The Duke of Cambridge today marked the centenary of the Battle of Messines Ridge at the Island of Ireland Peace Park near Ypres, honouring the Irish and Northern Irish soldiers who lost their lives.

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and Princess Astrid of Belgium joined William for the event.

The Battle of Messines Ridge, which was fought 7-14 June 1917, was the first time that the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions fought alongside each other during the First World War, giving it particular meaning for the Irish people.

The ceremony featured readings by members of the Royal Irish Regiment and the Irish Defence Forces, and musical interludes performed by the Royal Band of the Belgian Navy.

“To all those who gave their lives in the Great War. We will remember them,” read William’s wreath, which he laid at the foot of the Round Tower.

The Duke then spoke with descendants of those who were at the battle, before heading to the nearby Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Wytschaete. More than 1,000 men who fought in WWI are buried or remembered here.

William laid another wreath here with the Irish Prime Minister.

Rounding off the day, the Royal saw a ‘Field of Flanders soil ceremony’, where Belgian children exchanged soil with children from Ireland and Northern Ireland, hoping to promote peace in the centenary years of the conflict.

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