William leads commemoration of Australia and New Zealand’s war dead

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The Prince of Wales has led the nation in commemorating Australia and New Zealand’s war dead during a poignant dawn service marking Anzac Day.

William stood shoulder with the High Commissioner for Australia Stephen Smith and his New Zealand counterpart Phil Goff, as all three men laid wreaths at Hyde Park Corner in the capital.

The busy London roundabout is home to war memorials for both southern hemisphere countries, and in the early morning light hundreds of Australians, New Zealanders, and military personnel watched as the future King left a floral tribute of red poppies and white flowers.

Anzac Day, April 25, marks the anniversary of the start of the First World War Gallipoli landings, and is a national day of remembrance for Australia and New Zealand.

Thousands of Anzac troops, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, died alongside British allies in the ill-fated 1915 campaign.

Waves of Allied forces launched an amphibious attack on the strategically important Turkish peninsula, which was key to controlling the Dardanelles straits, the crucial route to the Black Sea and Russia.

But the plan backed by Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, was flawed and the campaign, which faced a heroic defence by the Turks, led to a stalemate and withdrawal eight months later.

Anzac Day 2023
A message left by the Prince of Wales on a wreath laid at the dawn service (Yui Mok/PA)

During the dawn service Australia’s High Commissioner also marked the contributions of First Nations people, indigenous Australians and Maori.

He said: “We now take the opportunity on Anzac day to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders who made a contribution not just in Gallipoli, but throughout those conflicts.

“The day of commemoration has also grown to acknowledge not just the contribution made by those millions of men and women, but also to reflect upon the values and virtues of character of diversity.

Anzac Day 2023
The Prince of Wales lays a wreath (Yui Mok/PA)

A smaller congregation than normal attended the Westminster Abbey Service marking Anzac Day as seating was reduced due to the area around the quire and High Altar being prepared for the King’s coronation on May 6.

Prayers were said and, in his bidding, Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster paid tribute to the Anzac troops, telling the congregation: “We think of courage and resilience at a time when we are conscious of contemporary conflict in Sudan and Ukraine.

“We look around and find reason to pray for those caught up in war today.

“We also acknowledge that we gather in the Abbey close to the coronation of Their Majesties the King and the Queen Consort.

“We pray for them and with them.”

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