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William and Duke of Gloucester to join Anzac Day commemorations

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The Duke of Gloucester will attend the Dawn Service at the New Zealand Memorial at London’s Hyde Park Corner, and later William will take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall followed by a service of commemoration and thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey.

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 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 stalemate and withdrawal eight months later.

Its legacy is the celebration of the “Anzac spirit” – courage, endurance, initiative, discipline and mateship – shown by the Antipodean troops.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have remembered this “gallant comradeship” in a message released ahead of Anzac Day.

The heir to the throne said in a statement: “As we pause to reflect on the sacrifice of the Armed Services personnel of Australia and New Zealand in two World Wars, and in other conflicts and peacekeeping operations, our thoughts will also be with those communities around the world who are being torn apart by violence and conflict, and those who are fighting for freedom in the face of oppression.”

The dawn service will include readings, the Last Post will be sounded by a bugler and wreaths will also be laid as it draws to a close.

William will lay wreath on behalf of the Queen at the Cenotaph and hundreds will take part in a parade, including members of veterans’ associations, service and ex-service personnel and their families.

At the following Westminster Abbey service, the Dean of Westminster will give the address and there will be readings from the New Zealand and Australian High Commissioners, prayers will be read by children of each country, and a Maori waiata, or song, performed by the London-based Ngati Ranana.

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