Queen Elizabeth attends overnight memorial service
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth attended an overnight service to mark the 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.
The 90-year-old monarch was joined by husband Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey yesterday evening (30.06.16) to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in one of the deadliest chapters of the First World War.
The queen laid a wreath of roses on the grave of the Unknown Warrior before a bugler sounded the Last Post.
An honour guard of soldiers and civilians were holding an overnight vigil at the grave, which ended just before 7.30 am, the time British troops were sent into battle on July 1 1916 in northern France.
Almost 20,000 of them were killed in the first day of the four-month campaign, which took a million lives.
The Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres addressed the congregation, which also included Prime Minister David Cameron, and quoted the famous words of Irishman Thomas Kettle, who was killed at the Somme.
He said: “‘Used with the wisdom that is sown in tears and blood, this tragedy of Europe may be and must be the prologue to the two reconciliations of which all statesmen have dreamed; the reconciliation of Protestant Ulster with Ireland and the reconciliation of Ireland with Great Britain.’
“Our prayer must be that with the wisdom sown in blood and tears we may be agents of the reconciliation which is God’s will, reconciliation wherever we live or from wherever we come, rejecting those who would stir up hatred and division and instead working for the reconciliation that will ensure that our children will never have to endure what the men of the Somme so bravely endured.”