Published 7 June 2017

The Duke of Cambridge has attended a joint UK-Ireland commemorative ceremony to remember those who lost their lives in the Battle of Messines Ridge.

The ceremony took place at the Island of Ireland Peace Park, where The Duke was joined by Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Princess Astrid of Belgium, for the commemoration.

The Battle of Messines Ridge, which was fought 7-14 June 1917, has a particular and symbolic significance for Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was the first time that the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions fought alongside each other during the First World War.

The ceremony included an Act of Remembrance, readings by members of the Royal Irish Regiment and the Irish Defence Forces, and musical interludes performed by the Royal Band of the Belgian Navy.

After the Service, The Duke laid a wreath at the foot of the Round Tower in the Peace Park, before meeting guests, including descendants of those who fought at the battle.

The Duke of Cambridge meets guests at the Battle of Messines Ridge centenary commemorations

His Royal Highness then travelled to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Wytschaete, where over 1,000 servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated.

At Wytschaete The Duke was shown a plaque dedicated to Major Willie Redmond and Private John Meeke. Their story of bravery and unity during the battle, despite their political differences, has an enduring legacy in Ireland.

Plaque dedicated to Major Willie Redmond and Private John Meeke

At the 16th Irish Division Memorial Cross The Duke and Taoiseach paid their respects at a small ceremony and reflected on the shared history between the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Before departing The Duke witnessed the Field of Flanders soil ceremony, where  Belgian children exchanged soil with children from Ireland and Northern Ireland to promote peace. 

Children from Belgium, Northern Ireland and Ireland take part in a soil exchanging ceremony to promote peace