During a time when military, past and present are being honoured, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent has handed over his role as President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWCG).
Princess Anne is the new president. The Duke of Kent held the role for over 50 years. The CWGC cares for war graves of Commonwealth men and women who died in the First and Second World Wars. Currently, the commission honours 1.7 million deceased who are remembered at 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries and territories.
During his time as president, the Duke of Kent has visited memorial sites throughout the Commonwealth and was a representative of CWCG at events.
The Duke of Kent released a statement about passing the role on to the Princess: “As President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for over 50 years, it has been a privilege and an honour to work closely with those who strive to preserve the legacy and memory of our fallen is not lost. I look forward to watching on as Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal champions this remarkable organisation which ensures future generations continue to commemorate the sacrifice of the men and women of the Commonwealth.”
Princess Anne also commented on her new position and praised the Duke of Kent’s service: “In recording and maintaining the graves of the men and women from across the Commonwealth who died during both world wars, the CWGC plays a significant role in commemorating those who sacrificed so much for our future. Their cemeteries, large or small, always have an impact. I am honoured to become president of this organisation and know that I have a challenge in continuing the dedicated work of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent for over 50 years. Preserving the legacy of those from across the Commonwealth who gave their future in order to preserve ours is a privilege. We will remember them.”
CWCG Director General Claire Horton, CBE, thanked the Duke of Kent for his service: “While we are saddened by your departure, we give thanks for your dedication, service and support as our President, and we remember with great fondness the many moments we have shared over the years. There have been so many highlights, from opening our headquarters in 1973, to the launch of our records on the internet in 1998, to the inauguration of the first new cemetery we had built in fifty years at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in France in 2010, to the hugely significant moment of our re-engagement in the Irish Republic in 2014 when you dedicated our Cross of Sacrifice at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. You have overseen events and moments of great significance in our history and the history of commemoration. We consider ourselves fortunate to have had you as our President. You are greatly admired and loved by our people around the world, and I know they join with us in saying thank you for all you have done for us and to wish you a long and very happy future.”
In addition to receiving a new president, CWCG also gained their first royal patron, King Charles III.
On their most recent overseas trip to Kenya, The King and Queen visited the Commonwealth War Graves’ Kariokor Cemetery in Nairobi. They also took part in a remembrance ceremony to honour the fallen.
When asked about having a royal patron, Director General Horton remarked: “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has long benefited from the interest and support of our Royal Family, but today it is doubly wonderful to welcome His Majesty The King as our first Royal Patron, and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal as our President.”