Prince Harry attended three Anzac Day Services today to honour and commemorate the lives of soldiers and civilians from Austrailia and New Zealand who lost their lives during war time and peacekeeping missions.
Thousands showed up to observe the dawn service at Wellington Arch in Hyde Park. The Prince laid a wreath at this service as well as at the Cenotaph Parade on behalf of the Queen. The dawn service featured a traditional New Zealand dance.
Alexander Downer, the Australian high commissioner to the UK, said to the assembled crowd: “When we reflect on Anzac Day we imagine the Gallipoli landings, what it must have been like, at dawn on the water, in sight of that rugged shoreline – and a collectively held breath, a leaden silence about to be broken.”
“We consider the enthusiasm, the courage, and the heroism of the Anzac troops – ordinary men fighting for God, King and empire, for their mates, for adventure, for a world without war.” He also laid a wreath.
Four hundred participants, comprised of members of veterans associations, current and former servicepeople and their families took part in the parade before the Prince laid the wreath at the Cenotaph. Schoolchildren read prayers and all three national anthems were played. The national anthems of Australia and New Zealand were sung at the conclusion of the final service at Westminster Abbey.
Anzac Day commemorates the first battles fought with Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I; mainly during the 1915 landings of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli. King George V attended a service held at West Minster in 1916 to mark its aniversery. The eight-month campaign involving the allied operational forces was one of the bloodiest of the war. This campaign at the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey was an attempt to push the Ottoman Empire out of the war.
Since its inception, the Anzac Day Services are a way for visiting and expatriot Australians and New Zealanders to honour service members from all wars who have lost their lives. It is also a way to show the bonds between these two countries with Great Britain.