The Duke of Cambridge was the Queen’s representative during the State Visit of South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye.
Prince William took part in the ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday morning for the Korean War memorial along with President.
This was Prince William’s first time acting as representative for Her Majesty on an official State Visit in this country. Prior to today’s State Visit, the only State function he attended was with the Duchess of Cambridge, meeting President Obama and The First Lady on their 2011 State Visit.
With an increase in his royal duties after finishing his RAF career in Anglesey this past September, “we see this as a significant moment for him. He is stepping up to the plate,” a senior royal aide told The Telegraph.
William had the honour to meet a few of 82,000 British military personnel who served in the Korean War. The war lasted from 1950-1953 and approximately 1,000 British servicemen lost their lives during the three year battle.
“[The Duke] asked about the conditions in the camp and about the climate. It means a great deal to have the future king of England here,” commented Tommy Clough, a former POW of the war. The memorial will be located at the Victoria Embankment Gardens in London.
President Park is staying at Buckingham Palace during her three-day State Visit. She addressed the crowd, heralding the many “sacrifices made by British soldiers – many doing National Service – in the war against Communist North Korea,” Gordon Rayner reports in The Telegraph.
“It is said that a friend in need is a friend indeed,” she said. “This memorial will remind future generations of the remarkable fruits of British friendship which will forever be etched in the hearts of the Korean people,” President Park concluded.
The scale model of the stone memorial was unveiled during today’s ceremony. The statue that is part of the 18 foot memorial will be sculpted by Phillip Jackson. It depicts a “British soldier in winter kit looking down as if in front of a battlefield grave to say goodbye to a fallen comrade.”
The memorial funded by private and corporate South Korean donors will be completed in summer 2014.
“It means everything to have this. So many people don’t know about the war. It came too soon after the end of World War Two and the country had had enough of war,” Dick Fair, a veteran of the war, commented.
“It’s taken a while. It’s an honour to be here. It’s the least I could do. It’s been a good opportunity for me to catch up and learn a bit more about the war,” William commented while speaking to the veterans.