Princess Royal attends Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·3-min read

The Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal have marked Anzac Day by paying tribute to the Australian and New Zealand military.

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.

On Sunday, Anne and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence attended two commemorative services in London on behalf of the royal family.

They were among a reduced number attending the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Wellington Arch, where the princess laid a wreath at both the Australian and New Zealand War Memorials, and signed a book of remembrance.

The couple then visited Westminster Abbey for the Anzac Day Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving.

Thousands of Anzac troops – Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – died in the ill-fated 1915 Gallipoli campaign.

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

Anzac Day commemorations
The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence at Westminster Abbey (Jonathan Brady/PA)

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.

William highlighted these qualities in a message to mark Anzac Day sent to the New Zealand and Australian High Commissions in London, along with some Anzac biscuits, on Friday.

The duke said in his message: “This Anzac Day, Catherine and I join Australians and New Zealanders across the world to remember and honour the servicemen and women of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

“Today we stand together to reflect not only on their sacrifices, but also their courage, sense of duty, and their famously indomitable spirit.

“Though many will still be unable to come together in person this year, we are heartened in the knowledge that Australians and New Zealanders will continue to commemorate those who have given so much for our freedoms.

“The Anzac qualities of endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour and mateship are admired as fiercely as ever before.

“Lest we forget.”

The Princess Royal alongside Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence
The Princess Royal (centre) alongside Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence (right) at the service (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Anzac Day has been commemorated in London since the first anniversary of the Anzac landings, when King George V attended a service at Westminster Abbey.

Since then, the services have become an important moment for thousands of expatriates and visiting New Zealanders and Australians.