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World War One Centenary: the Royal Family’s reflections on the Great War

Balcony appearances to boost morale and poignant messages to strangers they would never meet are just some of the memories being shared by the Royal Family ahead of the centenary of the end of World War One. As the 100th anniversary of the Armistice approaches, items from the Royal Archives linked to the conflict are being posted on official social media accounts, painting a picture of the Windsors at war.

Between November 1st and November 11th, the Royal Family Twitter and Instagram accounts are featuring photos of artefacts from the Great War along with details of their significance. The items have been chosen to show how the Royal Family and the Royal Household of the time played a part in the conflict which claimed over nine million lives between 1914 and 1918.

The social media exhibition began with a series of documents written by members of the Royal Family in August 1914 as war approached and then finally arrived. Among the documents shared in that first installment are poignant extracts from the diaries of both King George V and Queen Mary. The King noted that on the day war was declared ”an enormous crowd collected outside the Palace…it was a never to be forgotten sight when May and I, with David, went on to the balcony, the cheering was terrific”.

David was, of course, George and Mary’s eldest son, then Prince of Wales and posts over the weekend have focused on his desire to go and fight as war broke out. As heir to the throne, he couldn’t take part in active conflict but a series of letters and briefings show his elation at being allowed to train with the Grenadier Guards and his disappointment when he stayed behind as his comrades headed to France.

Meanwhile, the famous idea of his sister, Mary, also features in the commemorations. Her ‘Christmas Box’ and ‘Christmas Book’ as well as cards sent by George V and Queen Mary during the war are another of the chapters in this series which will run until Armistice Day itself.

Between then and now we will also see the current House of Windsor marking the anniversary of the end of the war. The Countess of Wessex is due to attend the Metropolitan Police Service, First World War 100 Year Anniversary Remembrance Service in London this week. Those killed in the Great War as well as all those who have given their lives for their country will be commemorated at the Fields of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey and the Duke of Sussex will visit in the coming days and plant a cross with a simple red poppy on it himself. And the Queen will be joined by many members of her family for the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London on November 10th 2018.

Remembrance Sunday itself falls on November 11th this year, exactly 100 years to the day that the guns fell silent in the First World War and the Queen will lead the Royal Family at the traditional service at the Cenotaph. Meanwhile, the Princess Royal will be in Glasgow for Scotland’s Commemorative Service for the Centenary of the First World War, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex will attend the Welsh National Service of Thanksgiving marking the anniversary of the end of the Great War which is being held at Llandaff Cathedral.

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