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Duchess of Cambridge’s family join Royal Family for Gallipoli service

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a surprise appearance at the wreath-laying service today to remember those who died in the Gallipoli campaign. They joined The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in the placing of a wreath at the war memorial on the Sandringham Estate, though they were not scheduled to attend the event.

The couple were also joined at the church by Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, and the Duchess’ siblings, Pippa and James. The Duchess of Cambridge celebrated her 34th birthday on Saturday.

W Beach, Helles, on 7 January 1916 just prior to the final evacuation

W Beach on 7 January 1916, just prior to the final evacuation.

The Gallipoli campaign took place on the Gallipoli peninsula (modern day Turkey) in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. Its aim was to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul).

After eight months of fighting the campaign was abandoned. The total loss of life is estimated at around 500,000 souls. The Duke of Edinburgh is the patron of Gallipoli Association. The last Allied troops were withdrawn on January 9, 1916. It is considered as one of the greatest Ottoman victories, though the Ottoman sultanate would be abolished in 1922.

The Gallipoli campaign is considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand. The date of the landing, 25 April, is known as Anzac Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and is the most significant commemoration of military causalities and veterans, even surpassing Remembrance Day.

The presence of the Middleton family on the Sandringham Estate suggests that they have been staying with Kate and William at Anmer Hall for Kate’s birthday celebrations.

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The service marked the 100th anniversary of the bloody campaign. A bugler played the Last Post and a minute silence was observed.

Photo credits: Keith Williamson via Flickr & W-Beach in the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons