It was a somber day for Prince William and Princess Kate as the pair helped Queen Elizabeth II lead Britain’s tribute on Friday to the servicemen and women who have served in the Afghanistan conflict.
Much of the royal family attended the event at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, including Prince Harry, 30, who made two tours of duty during the 13-year campaign.
Kate, 33, in a navy blue coat by Beulah and matching hat, arrived with William, 32, who was in his Royal Air Force uniform.
In a strong show of the royal family’s support for those who have served, Army captain Harry, in his Household Cavalry uniform, was first of the senior royals to proceed down the aisle of the famous cathedral, leading his brother and Kate, who who were ahead of Prince Charles, 66, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 67. Then came the queen, 88, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 93.
The tribute to the 453 British servicemen and women who lost their lives was opened by the Very Reverend Dr. David Ison, Dean of St. Paul’s. The event also honored the 150,000 who served in Afghanistan.
Ison gave thanks for the British service personnel among the U.S.-led coalition “for the skill and expertise with which they have striven for peace and the common good.”
Each one of the fallen was listed in five pages at the end of the Order of Service book.
In a poignant moment during the 50-minute service, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, blessed a cross made of shell casings that had been part of a memorial wall in the main Allied base of Camp Bastian, Afghanistan. The cross will eventually be placed in the National Memorial Arboretum of the armed forces’ charity, the Royal British Legion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s address gave thanks “to all who served, whatever your role.”
“You who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured.
“I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.”
As the royal family led the congregation out, Harry joined his uncle, Prince Andrew, 55, himself a veteran who flew helicopters in the conflict over the Falklands Islands in the early 1980s.
The service follows a busy week for Kate, coming after a series of engagements including her fun-packed visit to the set of Downton Abbey Thursday, a trip to the seaside town of Margate and celebrations at a special church service Monday, when the royals marked the Commonwealth – the group of nations headed by the queen.