Published 4 July 2011

It is still worth telling. It has huge relevance for what’s happening in the world today.

The Duke of Sussex

When Nick Hood very kindly asked me to become Patron of Rob Caskie’s Zulu War talks in aid of Help for Heroes, I had no hesitation in accepting. It seemed the most perfect match: tales of heroism and sacrifice from the past, linking to the commitment and sacrifice that we demand from our military today.

I first went to Fugitive’s Drift with my father in 1997. There, I had the privilege of hearing the extraordinary story of the Anglo-Zulu War from the mouth of one of the world’s great storytellers, David Rattray. Rob has taken on David’s awesome mantle in the most brilliant way, ensuring that the lessons from history, both good and bad, are never forgotten.

It is important that no cloudy romanticism surrounds stories about war, and that tales of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift do not glorify, at the expense of forgetting that real people died horrific violent deaths there. However, it is also true to say that Isandlwana engendered such depths of respect between foes that, over the years and decades since, a lasting and unshakeable friendship has arisen between the British and Zulu nations.

David told us that it was largely because of this effect of reconciliation that the story was worth telling. It is still worth telling. It has huge relevance for what’s happening in the world today.

But, it is also such a great story.

So thank you all for supporting Help for Heroes this evening, and for coming here to remember those young Welshmen from the valleys who died for their Queen and country, and the young warriors who gave their lives in defence of the old Zulu order in 1879.

Ladies and Gentlemen…Rob Caskie.