British royals to visit Mesen for battle ceremony

Summary

Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton will visit West Flanders for the centenary of the Battle of Messines

Ceremony at Irish Peace Park

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton (pictured), are to attend the 7 June ceremony in Mesen, West Flanders, recognising the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Messines, mayor Sandy Evrard has announced.

The commemoration of the First World War battle, which took place from 7 to 14 June 1917, will involve a joint British-Irish delegation as well as groups from Australia and New Zealand. The British-Irish commemoration will take place at the Irish Peace Park on the afternoon of 7 June.

The Battle of Messines – considered a prelude to the Third Battle of Ypres – saw Allied forces devastate German lines by detonating 19 mines simultaneously via tunnels. The explosion was heard as far away as Dublin.

“For security reasons we cannot release the entire programme or the measures being taken,” Evrard said. “But we will be extremely well supported by the defence ministry, by the British security services and by our local police.”

It will be “a very symbolic day,” he continued, “where we show our acknowledgement and gratitude. We don’t want to make a big show, but it will be more than just a laying of wreaths and a Last Post.”

British secretary of state for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire also issued a statement: “We have seen all too well how history can divide, but our ambitious goal throughout this decade of centenaries is to seek to use history to bring us together, and to build on the political progress that has been made throughout these islands.”

Photo: Flickr / Clarence House, 2010

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