The Prince of Wales attends Canadian Vimy Ridge Centenary commemorations on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen

 

The Prince of Wales attended commemorations in France today to mark 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

TRH visit the tunnel and trenches at Vimy Memorial Park
TRH visit the tunnel and trenches at Vimy Memorial Park

The Prince of Wales attended commemorations in France today to mark 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

His Royal Highness was attending the event on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen and was accompanied by The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Their Royal Highnesses arrived at Vimy Ridge and were greeted by Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and Francois Hollande, the President of France, before being given a guided tour of the preserved French trenches where Canadian and British forces fought and died during the 1917 battle.

The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry were taken down into a short section of the Allied front-line trenches, with the German position just tens of metres away and no man's land in between.

Surrounding them was an undulating landscape scarred with the remains of collapsed trenches and shell holes.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge saw four Canadian divisions come together as a unified fighting force for the first time. 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed during the battle and over 60,000 Canadians were killed in total during the First World War, at a time when Canada was a country of less than eight million people. More than 650,000 thousand Canadians served in uniform.

Their Royal Highnesses then travelled to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, where the service of commemoration would take place. The Prince of Wales reviewed the Canadian Guard alongside the Governor General before the Royal party was welcomed to their seats for the ceremony as 25,000 guests looked on.

The Prince of Wales reviews the guard at the commemorative ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial
The Prince of Wales reviews the guard at the commemorative ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is built on Hill 145, the highest point of Vimy Ridge captured by Canadian and British troops after four days of fighting.

During the ceremony, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry laid the final pair of thousands of boots left at the monument to symbolise the 3,598 Canadians killed in the battle, and The Prince of Wales laid a wreath and addressed dignitaries and guests.

The Prince of Wales said: “The events of that day saw the four divisions of the Canadian Corps serving together for the first time.  They fought bravely and with great ingenuity.  They succeeded in seizing the vital high ground of Vimy, a task in which many others before them had failed.  

“However, victory came at an unbearably heavy cost.  This was, and remains, the single bloodiest day in Canadian military history.  Yet Canadians displayed a strength of character and commitment to one another that is still evident today.  They did not waver.  This was Canada at its best; the Canadians at Vimy embodied the “True North Strong and Free.” 

The Last Post was played by a bugler using an instrument that had been sounded in the very area 100 years ago, as it had belonged to George William Shaw, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who served at Vimy Ridge, and was loaned by his grandson.

Following the ceremony, Their Royal Highnesses met some of the guests before attending a reception at the new Vimy Ridge Visitor Centre.

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