Prince Harry lays a wreath at dawn to mark Anzac Day centenary


Prince Harry has laid a wreath at Wellington Arch to mark the start of Anzac Day commemorations in the UK.

Thousands of people waited in the dark before the start of the dawn service, which marked 100 years since the day was first marked in London.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry during the service (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

Anzac Day has been commemorated in the capital since the first anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli in 1916, when King George V attended a service at Westminster Abbey.

Since then, the services have become an important moment for thousands of expatriate and visiting New Zealanders and Australians, who honour the sacrifices of their countrymen and women in all wars.

Harry laid a wreath at the memorial at Hyde Park Corner, followed by the New Zealand and Australian high commissioners and other dignitaries.

Harry lays the wreath
The wreath was placed at Hyde Park Corner (Jeremy Selwyn/AP)

Addressing the gathered crowds, Alexander Downer, Australian high commissioner to the UK, said: "When we reflect on Anzac Day we imagine the Gallipoli landings, what it must have been like, at dawn on the water, in sight of that rugged shoreline - and a collectively held breath, a leaden silence about to be broken.

"We consider the enthusiasm, the courage, and the heroism of the Anzac troops - ordinary men fighting for God, King and empire, for their mates, for adventure, for a world without war."

The services have become an important moment for thousands of expatriates (Jeremy Selwyn/AP)

He added that the full meaning of Anzac Day was best encapsulated in an open letter from Australian poet Banjo Patterson to the Anzac troops in the Dardenelles in 1915.

It starts: "Australia takes her pen in hand

"To write a line to you,

"To let you fellows understand

"How proud we are of you..."

The wreath from the Queen (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Harry later attended a parade at the Cenotaph, where he laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen.

Up to 400 people took part in the parade, including members of veterans' associations, service and ex-service personal and their families.

Prince Harry holding wreath
Prince Harry attends a wreath-laying ceremony and parade at the Cenotaph (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Crowds - including Australia and New Zealand ex-pats - lined the streets to watch the ceremony which featured prayers read by schoolchildren, and the national anthems of all three countries.

Harry also attended a traditional church service of commemoration and thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey.