News story

Flanders' Fields Memorial Garden opens

Two Royal heads of state joined in remembrance at the opening of a commemorative garden at Wellington Barracks in London.

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Her Majesty The Queen lays a wreath at the Memorial Garden [Picture: Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC, Crown copyright]
Her Majesty The Queen lays a wreath at the Memorial Garden

Her Majesty The Queen and His Majesty Philippe, the King of the Belgians, attended a service of dedication at the Flanders’ Fields Memorial Garden, 100 years after the outbreak of the First World War.

The Flanders’ Fields Memorial Garden has been created with soil taken from the 70 battlefields and Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries in Flanders where so many millions had died.

This ‘sacred soil’ was gathered, with the support of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, by Belgian and British schoolchildren, several of whom attended today’s opening event.

Her Majesty The Queen and the King of the Belgians laid wreaths in the garden.

The service of dedication at the Memorial Garden
His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Her Majesty The Queen, His Majesty King Philippe and His Royal Highness Prince William [Picture: Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC, Crown copyright]

The memorial garden has been created in London at Wellington Barracks adjacent to Buckingham Palace.

Designed by a Belgian architect, Piet Blanckaert, it is inspired by the design of First World War memorials and carries the insignia of all 7 Guards’ Regiments who sacrificed so much on the battlefields of Flanders.

During the course of the war they were awarded 25 Victoria Crosses and by the end 16,000 soldiers from the Household Division were killed and are now buried in the 70 cemeteries of Flanders or remembered on the walls of the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Major General Edward Smyth-Osbourne, the General Officer Commanding the Household Division and Headquarters London District, said:

The Guards fought in almost every battle of the First World War. This memorial garden stands proud testament to their achievements in what Winston Churchill called ‘the world crisis’, and is testament to the traditions that we all strive to live up to today.

Combined with the Guards Museum and Guards Chapel, the new public access venue at Wellington Barracks will provide a rewarding experience for people in Britain who may be unable to make the journey to the battlefields themselves.

The garden will be open to the public daily between 10am and 4pm.

Published 6 November 2014