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Royal Family gathers to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of Somme

On Friday, the 100th anniversary of the battle of Somme was remembered by the members of the Royal Family.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were in Scotland but first attended a service the evening before at Westminster Abbey.

Another service was lead by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby at Thiepval’s memorial. The majority of the senior members of the Royal Family were there to pay their respects, including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

British Prime Minster David Cameron, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who is under fire for his behaviour during the ceremony, French president Francois Hollande and former German president Horst Kohler were also in attendance.

Prince Charles wrote in the commemorative programme: “Their sacrifice and suffering will never be forgotten.”

The battle of Somme saw 19,240 dead with a total of 57,470 casualties in that single day. When the battle was over 141 days later both sides suffered 1.3 million casualties.

The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to children from France, Britain and Ireland who were there to lay wreaths opening up to them how “emotional” the trip had been.

The ceremony started early in the morning, at 7:28am at Lochnagar Crater which was a German stronghold that the British blew up right before the attack.

In Britain, this was commemorated by two-minutes of silence which was broken at the same time when British officers led their men over the top.

Charles Pinele, 68, is the grandson of a British officer who led his men in the Cheshires. Pinele spoke about that day many years ago, saying:

“Six officers went out. Only two came back. He did not talk about it.”

Around 72,000 men have no known grave, Aileen Dunlop, 64, was there to lay a wreath for her great uncle, Thomas Doyle who is amongst those men.

Her great uncle was a coal miner from Bedlington, Northumberland, who fought with The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Dunlop said: “His name does not appear on the memorial in Bedlington. We think his mother hoped he would come back.

“Many mothers wouldn’t let their sons’ names go on memorials. They hoped they would come home. He never did.”

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