HIS MAJESTY THE KING BECOMES FIRST PATRON OF THE COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION
His Majesty The King has today become Patron of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the first in its history. His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, who has been President of the CWGC since 1970, has today officially passed the Presidency of the organisation over to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is a global organisation, caring for war graves at 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries and territories. The CWGC ensures that more than 1.7 million Commonwealth men and women who died during both World Wars are honoured. Since its establishment by Royal Charter, the CWGC has constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, erected headstones over graves and where remains are missing inscribed the names of the dead on permanent memorials.
On a recent state visit to Kenya, the King and Queen visited the Commonwealth War Graves’ Kariokor Cemetery in Nairobi. Their Majesties joined British and Kenyan military personnel in an act of remembrance, before hearing about the Commission’s recent work to ensure all those who supported Britain’s efforts in both World Wars are commemorated.
As the new President of the CWGC, The Princess Royal said:
“In recording and maintaining the graves of the men and women from across the Commonwealth who died during both World Wars, the CWGC plays a significant role in commemorating those who sacrificed so much for our future. Their cemeteries, large or small, always have an impact.
“I am honoured to become President of this organisation and know that I have a challenge in continuing the dedicated work of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent for over 50 years. Preserving the legacy of those from across the Commonwealth who gave their future in order to preserve ours is a privilege. We will remember them”.
His Royal Highness The Duke Of Kent was appointed President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on 27 February 1970. As President, the Duke of Kent has supported the work of the CWGC and travelled widely to visit their sites including in Australia, France, Belgium, Ireland and Bulgaria.
The Duke of Kent said:
“As President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for over 50 years, it has been a privilege and an honour to work closely with those who strive to preserve the legacy and memory of our fallen.
“I look forward to watching on as Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal champions this remarkable organisation which ensures future generations continue to commemorate the sacrifice of the men and women of the Commonwealth”.
Claire Horton CBE, Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), said:
“The CWGC has long benefited from the interest and support of our Royal Family, but today it is doubly wonderful to welcome His Majesty The King as our first Royal Patron, and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal as our President.
It is truly a great honour for everyone connected to our remarkable organisation and we look forward to sharing our many exciting plans with them as CWGC takes its place as a global leader in sustainable and inclusive commemoration for all time.
In welcoming our new Patron and President we also wish to give thanks to HRH The Duke of Kent, whose more than 50-year service to the Commission has been instrumental in leaving our organisation fit and able to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”