Prince Harry leads UK’s Armistice Day commemorations at the Arboretum

11 November 2016

Prince Harry has led the UK’s commemoration of Armistice Day at the Arboretum today. His Royal Highness joined senior military personnel, Armed Forces families, veterans and members of the public at the Arboretum’s annual Service of Remembrance which is held within the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial.

During the Service, Prince Harry read The Soldier, a First World War sonnet about a soldier leaving home for the battlefield. His Royal Highness then laid a wreath and inspected some of the 16,000 names on the memorial, including those of the nine men and one woman who died on duty in 2015.

The Armed Forces Memorial, a tribute to the servicemen and women who have died on duty, or as a result of terrorism, since 1948, has recently undergone significant improvement work. The memorial is designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when a two-minute Silence is called in Remembrance of the cessation of First World War hostilities, a shaft of sunlight dissects its inner and outer walls, hitting the central bronze wreath sculpture.

Lieutenant Colonel David Whimpenny, Chairman of the National Memorial Arboretum and Trustee of its parent charity, The Royal British Legion, said: “The National Memorial Arboretum and the Armed Forces Memorial provide a most fitting focal point both for the UK’s Armistice Day commemorations and for year-round remembrance. Today, led by Prince Harry, we paid tribute to the servicemen and women that have sacrificed their lives for their country, from the First World War to the current day.”

Wreaths were also laid by Staffordshire Lord-Lieutenant Mr Ian Dudson, Vice Admiral Ben Key CBE, Warrant Officer Class One Glenn Haughton and Air Marshal Sean Reynolds. Harriett Baldwin MP, Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, represented the Ministry of Defence. Music was provided by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas.

Prince Harry also took the salute during a parade of current serving personnel and Armed Forces Veterans.  The event concluded with a flypast of Squirrel HT1 helicopters from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire. Both Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge trained at RAF Shawbury and flew Squirrel helicopters as part of their course.