British royals to attend Passchendaele centenary memorials


The ceremonies memorialising the Battle of Passchendaele will be attended by foreign and local dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales

Legendary First World War battle

Prince Charles will attend Flanders’ commemorations of the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele next Sunday and Monday, together with his son, Prince William, and William’s wife Catherine. Flemish public broadcaster VRT has announced that it will provide live coverage of Monday’s ceremony, which begins at Tyne Cot at 13.00.

The Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, began on 31 July, 1917. It has gone down in history as one of the First World War’s bloodiest and most devastating battles. After its 100 days, both sides had suffered 450,000 fatalities, with some 50,000 more injured or missing. 

Eight kilometres of ground was taken, including the village of Passchendaele, now part of Zonnebeke in the Westhoek. One hundred years later, the battle still stands as a metaphor for futile warfare.

VRT will start its commemoration on Sunday, 30 July with a compilation from its series Ten oorlog (To War), which traces the front line with stories from then and now. That’s followed by the British 2012 mini-series Parade’s End.

The official commemoration begins the same evening with the traditional Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres, in the presence of the British royals as well as Belgian royals and politicians. That ceremony will also be attended by 200 descendants of some of those whose names are inscribed on the walls of the gate – those who were lost but whose remains have never been traced.

Following the Last Post, the attendees will move to Ypres’ market square to attend a multi-media performance on the battle. 

On 31 July, British and Belgian royals will attend a ceremony at Tyne Cot cemetery, followed by the opening of the Zonnebeke Church trench, preserved from the war and part of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele. The Tyne Cot ceremony will be covered live from 13.00 on Canvas.

Photo: Tijl Capoen/City of Ypres

First World War

Claiming the lives of more than nine million people and destroying entire cities and villages in Europe, the Great War was one of the most dramatic armed conflicts in human history. It lasted from 1914 to 1918.
Flanders Field - For four years, a tiny corner of Flanders known as the Westhoek became one of the war’s major battlefields.
Untouched - Poperinge, near Ypres, was one of the few towns in Flanders that remained unoccupied for most of the war.
Cemetery - The Tyne Cot graveyard in Passchendaele is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.
550 000

lives lost in West Flanders

368 000

annual visitors to the Westhoek

1 914

First Battle of Ypres