Prince William was joined at the last minute by wife Kate Middleton for Anzac Day commemorations in London – William laid a wreath at the Cenotaph, a job previously carried out by Prince Harry before he quit the Firm.
The Duchess of Cambridge made a surprise appearance with Prince William after he carried out a poignant job that used to be undertaken by his younger brother Prince Harry. Today, William took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall to commemorate Australians and New Zealanders on Anzac Day.
At the last minute, it was announced that wife Kate would then be joining him for a service of commemoration and thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey after the wreath-laying. As they arrived at the Abbey, Kate wore the same Alexander McQueen coat dress she wore to Princess Charlotte’s christening back in 2015.
Today, she paired the recycled coat with a a headband style hat, black shoes and a black bag. She also wore Princess Diana’s former Collingwood Pearl earrings.
The service at the Abbey saw the Dean of Westminster give the address and there were readings from the New Zealand and Australian High Commissioners. Prayers were read by children of each country, and a Maori waiata, or song, was performed by the London-based Ngati Ranana.
Harry, 37, had previously been the royal the Queen had turned to lay the wreath on her behalf – with him carrying out the poignant task in 2016, 2018 and 2019 – before attending the service at Westminster Abbey.
However, he stepped down as a working royal in 2020 and moved to the US with wife Meghan Markle, meaning today it was down to William and Kate to attend the commemorations this year.
Anzac Day – April 25 – marks the anniversary of the start of the First World War Gallipoli landings, and is a national day of remembrance for Australia and New Zealand.
Thousands of Anzac troops – Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – died in the ill-fated 1915 campaign. Waves of Allied forces launched an amphibious attack on the strategically important Turkish peninsula, which was key to controlling the Dardanelles straits, the crucial route to the Black Sea and Russia.
But the plan backed by Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, was flawed and the campaign, which faced a heroic defence by the Turks, led to stalemate and withdrawal eight months later.
Its legacy is the celebration of the “Anzac spirit” – courage, endurance, initiative, discipline and mateship – shown by the Antipodean troops. Yesterday, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla remembered this “gallant comradeship” in a message released ahead of Anzac Day.
The heir to the throne said in a statement: “As we pause to reflect on the sacrifice of the Armed Services personnel of Australia and New Zealand in two World Wars, and in other conflicts and peacekeeping operations, our thoughts will also be with those communities around the world who are being torn apart by violence and conflict, and those who are fighting for freedom in the face of oppression.”