World news story

TRH William, Kate, and Harry in Belgium for the First World War Centenary

Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William, Kate and Prince Harry will attend a service of remembrance in Mons, Belgium.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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HMA Brenton at St Symphorien with the German ambassador

The following official statement is issued today by the Royal Household:

On 4th August 2014, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, will attend a service of remembrance hosted by the Government of Belgium in Liège. Their Royal Highnesses will subsequently travel to St Symphorien Military Cemetery, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery near Mons, Belgium, for a UK commemorative event.

His Royal Highness Prince Harry will join The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at St Symphorien Military Cemetery.

British ambassador to Belgium, Jonathan Brenton, said:

I am absolutely delighted that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are coming to Belgium for the First World War Centenary commemorations this August. These commemorations remind us of the important bond between our two countries and the sacrifices we shared together one hundred years ago.

It is vital that younger generations learn the lessons of the war by visiting memorials like St Symphorien near Mons, lest we forget. So by paying tribute to the fallen in Belgium this August, Their Royal Highnesses will show the way for younger generations to come.

Follow the visit live on Facebook and Twitter via the British embassy Brussels social media channels.

Background

Media interested in interviewing the British ambassador to Belgium are requested to email piers.fotiadis@fco.gov.uk.

Information on media accreditation will follow in due course.

The opening day of the centenary on 4 August 2014 will focus on three events:

  • a wreath-laying service at Glasgow’s Cenotaph following the special service for Commonwealth leaders at Glasgow Cathedral

  • an event at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium – which has an equal number of British and German soldiers, and is where the first and last Commonwealth casualties of the war are believed to be buried

  • a candlelit vigil of prayer and penitence at Westminster Abbey finishing at 11pm – the moment war was declared

St Symphorien Military Cemetery contains the bodies of the first and last British soldiers who died on the Western front in the First World War. Private John Parr of the Middlesex Regiment, who was fatally wounded during an encounter with a German patrol on 21 August 1914, two days before the battle of Mons, and Private George Ellison of the Royal Irish Lancers who was killed on 11 November 1918.

The cemetery is shared, almost equally, between the Commonwealth and German dead. This is thanks to a Belgian, Jean Houzeau de Lehaie, who gave the land on condition that both British and German soldiers would be buried there. The graves were maintained during the war, and continue to be maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The ceremony will commemorate the entry of British soldiers into war in August 1914 while celebrating the strong friendship between former foes.

Published 30 April 2014