It was a somber scene in France for today’s ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
The skies were heavy at the Thiepval Memorial as dignitaries arrived to commemorate what is considered by most as the worst day in British military history.
Troops kept vigil overnight at the Memorial.
— Ministry of Defence (@DefenceHQ) July 1, 2016
Kate and William heading out to this morning’s events.
Below you see the couple with Prince Harry and President Hollande as they arrive to honor the 72000 Commonwealth soldiers killed and without known graves.
The group with other dignitaries.
Before today’s service the royals toured the newly renovated visitors center at the Memorial.
Behind the Duke and Duchess you can see one of two 30-foot murals depicting battle scenes.
A quick video inside the Museum.
The pair enjoyed speaking with some of the children at the center.
A 2-minute silence starting at 7:28am was observed throughout the UK. In London it was followed by the Royal Horse Artillery firing a 100-second salute. This file photo offers an aerial view of the Thiepval Memorial.
Both cornflowers, the French flower of remembrance, and poppies were visible during the day’s program.
The young royals arriving for the service.
Royal Family members and dignitaries stand as national anthems are played. The group includes Prince Charles, Camilla – Duchess of Cornwall, Kate, William, Harry, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence – Vice Chair of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Prime Minister David Cameron and Ireland’s President, Michael Higgins.
Today’s events were broadcast live throughout France, the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries.
Prince Charles and President Hollande laying wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice.
The Garde Républicaine.
The younger royals.
For part of the service it was rainy…
…and for other portions it was dry.
10000 dignitaries, guests and members of the public watched film footage of the Battle.
From Simon Perry’s story in People.
After the sounding of the “Last Post” by buglers, the royals walked among a group of 300 French and 300 British and Irish schoolkids, who stood quietly at the gravestones.
Kate and Harry speaking with some of the children.
From Victoria Murphy’s story in The Mirror:
A group of 600 schoolchildren – 300 French and 300 British and Irish – laid wreaths on many some of the war graves. The Duchess of Cambridge told schoolchildren she was finding her visit to the Somme “emotional,” as she toured the new museum prior to the event
From a story in The Express:
Poppy Hodgson, from Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street, and Neave Heaton, from Greenfield School in Durham, presented William and Kate with a binder of art, photography and history work produced by pupils taking part. Poppy said: “She said it was quite emotional being here and that they were really enjoying their visit. She said it was very moving.”
The trio just after the service concluded.
Today we saw Kate in her go-to textile, lace.
The dress features a Peter Pan collar and princess seaming.
Other design elements include a peplum waist, three-quarter sleeves and eyelash lace.
From the Sophie Hallette Facebook page:
Several people messaged/emailed & noted on the Facebook page that there is a similarity between the lace on today’s dress and that used in the Alexander McQueen seen at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee church service and a garden party at Buckingham Palace. This is most striking when looking at the fronds; I turned the photo from the Jubilee upside down for this comparison.
It certainly looks similar; wearing McQueen for this observance would very much be in keeping with Kate’s pattern of choosing designs from the brand for important, high profile events. Here is a comparison at the hem. The scallop size looks about right, the photo on the right is closer in, that is why it might appear off.
While my personal preference is for lace at evening functions like cocktail parties, I recognize that for many the material has become acceptable, if not preferred, for daywear among younger generations.
DRESS UPDATE: It seems the dress is not by Alexander McQueen. HeavenLM got in touch with McQueen & was advised the piece was not one of their designs; she shared the company’s response on Twitter. She also reached out to Dolce & Gabbana, the company told her Kate was not wearing one of their garments. (That info was shared here.)
Kate brought back a Sylvia Fletcher for Lock and Company hat.
the Lion Tamer is a signature style in our Couture collection. Hand-sculpted from layers of dyed ebony sinamay and finished with a simple ostrich feather, it elegantly frames the face.
This offers a better look at Kate’s hair.
Kate carried her Mulberry ‘Bayswater’ clutch.
She also wore her her Gianvito Rossi heels in black suede.
And the flowers of remembrance.
We will continue to update the post throughout the day as more photos become available.
We leave you with a few videos. The first shows an extraordinary event, young men dressed as World War I soldiers singing “We’re here because we’re here.” Scenes like this one played out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland today, part of a National Theatre project.
This offers a 2-minute overview of the Battle.
— Foreign Office (FCO) (@foreignoffice) June 30, 2016
- 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 Daily Mail’s photo-laden story from today is here; The Daily Mirror coverage is here; The Express story is here;
- The Huffington Post’s piece on the National Theater project is here, Ann Gripper’s Daily Mirror column on the same topic is here; the BBC story about it is here; ITV’s story is here.
- The Telegraph’s photo gallery is here & its news story here; The Sun’s coverage is here;
- People magazine’s story is here; PopSugar’s gallery with images from last night and today is here