Kate, William and Harry were in northern France this evening for the first event marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
From Centenary News:
The 141-day Battle of the Somme resulted in more than a million Allied and German casualties (dead, wounded and missing). July 1st 1916 is remembered as the worst day in British military history – 19,240 soldiers were killed, 35,493 wounded and 2,737 were missing or taken prisoner.
Tomorrow is the actual anniversary. Tonight the trio visited the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
It is the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world.
Before this evening’s service the Duke, Duchess and Prince Harry went to the top of the Memorial. The three looking out over ‘no man’s land.’
On July 1, 1916, following a seven-day British bombardment, some 120,000 men clambered from their trenches and went ‘over the top’ — to be met by a hail of German machine-gun fire that mowed down half of them.
In this photo from Emily Andrews you can see the expanse of land the soldiers needed to cross.
From George Will’s column in the Washington Post:
In the first hours, eight British soldiers fell per second. By November a million men on both sides were dead — 72,000 British and Commonwealth bodies were never recovered — or wounded.
Tonight the two Princes and Duchess were given a tour and briefing about the Memorial.
The Memorial honors more than 72000 military personnel who died in the Somme and have no known grave.
Representatives from countries on both sides of the Battle took part in the event.
Prince William delivered brief comments:
“It was in many ways the saddest day in the long story of our nation.”
William quoted “Birdsong” author Sebastian Faulks:
“We lost the flower of a generation; and in the years to come it sometimes seemed that with them a sense of vital optimism had disappeared forever from British life.”
Prince Harry read the poem “Before Action,” written by Lieutenant W.N. Hodgson, who was killed July 1st of 1916 in the Battle. The Lieutenant wrote the poem the day before he was killed.
There were observances throughout the UK and France this evening. The Queen and Prince Philip were at Westminster Abbey for a service conducted at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
More from Westminster Abbey:
The Abbey remained open through the night for a Vigil to mark the centenary of the Battle of Somme and a Watch at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior changed every 15 minutes.
Kate wore a new piece from Missoni.
The front and back.
This garment is all about the fabric, a textured zig-zag, or snake stitch, design in black, greys and white. Metallic threads used in the textile create a soft shimmer effect.
The fabric is a blend of 50% rayon, 32% rayon cupro and 18% polyester. The coat has an A-line silhouette; it is single breasted with oversize patch pockets, and a back vent. As you can see in the product photos a black belt came with the piece, although Kate elected not to wear the belt this evening.
On The Outnet site (Net a Porter’s discount arm) the original price of the garment is shown as having been £1568, that is roughly $2000. The sale price was £457, or about $610 at today’s exchange rates. Below, a look at one of the pockets being referenced in the comments.
Beneath the coat the Duchess was in a black dress; we don’t know which frock it could be. Another view, this one during a lighthearted moment.
The Duchess accessorized with a new hat, a pillbox style with a vintage feel and netting that covered her updo. (I’m still hunting for a good photo.)
A closer view of the hat and Kate’s updo, but still not the photo I am hoping to find.
The Duchess brought back her black suede Gianvito Rossi heels.
And carried her Mulberry ‘Bayswater’ clutch.
Members of the Armed Forces standing watch at the Memorial tonight.
Tomorrow’s events begin with a 2-minute silence throughout the United Kingdom starting at 7:28am. We leave you with this video from the Imperial War Museum. NOTE: Post updated to reflect Kate wearing Gianvito Rossi heels, not the Stuart Weitzman as I initially wrote. LINKAGE:
- The Somme 2016 website is here; the UK government’s Somme Centenary pages are here
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission website is here; the organization’s Facebook page is here; its Twitter feed is here; the specific Thiepval Memorial page is here
- The official site for the Somme Battlefields history/travel/tourism info is here; Facebook page is here; Twitter feed is here
- The Royal British Legion’s pages about the Somme are here
- The Telegraph’s 10 Facts about the Battle of the Somme is here; The Express has a gallery of historic photos here
- The Sun’s photo-laden coverage is here; today’s Daily Mail story is here;
- Sky News coverage is here, it includes links to multiple videos;