First World War Centenary: Royal visit to Menin Gate to commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele
Monday, 31 July 2017
Prince William spoke during the Last Post ceremony, saying that 100 years later Belgium and Great Britain were moving forward hand in hand. King Philippe spoke of, and paid tribute to, the Last Post Association.
On Sunday, the Belgian royal couple, together with Prince William and his wife Catherine attended the Last Post ceremony in Ypres to remember the battle, which began exactly 100 years ago in 1917. Members of the Belgian and British Royal Family paid tribute to the victims of this major battle of the 1914-18 War. They attended the Last Post ceremony at 8 p.m. in the company of the Mayor of Ypres Jan Durnez. This event has paid tribute every evening, since 1928, to British soldiers who fell in the line of duty.
Four hundred people attended this ceremony, two hundred of which were either descendants or close relatives of soldiers, whose names are engraved on the Menin Gate. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, the Minister for Defence, Steven Vandeput, and the Flemish Minister, Bart Tommelein, were also present on Sunday evening. All of the mayors of Westhoek, a region that was battered by the war, attended this ceremony.
The Battle of Passchendaele near Yprès began on July 31st, 1917 and ended on November 6th, of the same year. The battle caused the death of 325,000 members of allied forces and 260,000 Germans. Some 40,000 bodies of British soldiers have never been found. Nowadays, Tyne Cot cemetery in Passchendaele, built on the former front line, contains the tombs of more than 10,000 soldiers. It is the largest military cemetery of the Commonwealth in the world.
Prince William spoke after the opening of the Last Post ceremony, mentioning that 100 years later Belgium and Great Britain were moving forward hand in hand. He also stressed the importance of the symbolism of the daily Last Post ceremony. King Philippe spoke and paid tribute to the Last Post Association, which has already sounded some 30,000 times under the Menin Gate.
Following the Last Post, members of the Belgian and British Royal families laid wreaths, as well as 19 representatives of all of the countries which fought in the so-called “Ypres Salient” or, to use the British term, Flanders Fields.