Prince Charles remembers fallen soldiers
Prince Charles honoured New Zealand’s fallen soldiers at a moving ceremony in France on Thursday (15.09.16).
The 67-year-old royal attended the New Zealand Somme Centenary Commemorations in his official role as the Field Marshal of the New Zealand Army to remember those who died serving their country during the First World War.
Speaking at the ceremony, he said: “Standing in this peaceful scene today it is hard to imagine that a century ago this was an infernal, blasted wasteland, which my predecessor as Prince of Wales, my great-uncle Edward, described as ‘the nearest approach to hell imaginable’ …
The footprints we leave today mark the centre of a struggle that found twenty-five countries from five continents on opposing sides in a terrible and exhausting trial of strength. None came further to serve here than the New Zealanders who, on the Somme, confirmed their reputation as exceptional soldiers.
“They engaged, with boundless courage and tenacity, in defence of values of liberty that we still hold dear to this day. What occurred here 100 years ago did not create national character – it revealed it. The depth of contribution and sacrifice by Pākehā and Maori soldiers was extraordinary.”
The Prince of Wales – who is next in line to the throne – was escorted to the event by the New Zealand Defence Force’s Maori Cultural Group, where he urged for conflict across the world to cease.
He added: “Long after 1916, one Otago soldier recalled how at a New Zealand regimental aid post wounded men were evacuated under heavy shellfire ‘with no favour or distinction of nationality’. It was he thought ‘an insane paradox – every energy in the one place devoted to the extermination of life, and the other to its preservation!’
“My hope is that today we can re-dedicate ourselves to a future free from intolerance and conflict. We do this in honour of the memory of those who fought and died here so long ago.”