Queen to unveil national memorial for service in Iraq and Afghanistan wars


A national memorial honouring the Armed Forces and civilians who served their country during the Gulf War and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will be unveiled by the Queen today.

Prime Minister Theresa May, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and senior figures from the Cabinet will attend the ceremony.

Around 2,500 invited guests, including representatives of veterans, serving military, bereaved families, charity workers, civil servants and politicians, will attend a military Drumhead Service on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall.

It will be followed by an unveiling ceremony of sculptor Paul Day's memorial in nearby Victoria Embankment Gardens in the shadow of the Ministry of Defence building.

The artist also designed the nearby Battle of Britain Monument as well as The Meeting Place, a large bronze statue of a couple embracing at St Pancras railway station in London.

The memorial is not intended to focus on the fallen and bears no names. But it commemorates the duty and service of those who put themselves in harm's way to protect the nation's interests far from the UK, helped those in danger or worked to improve the lives of those in the Gulf region, Iraq and Afghanistan from 1990 to 2015.

However, some military widows have criticised organisers for failing to inform them about the major event or offer invites to all the bereaved families.

The number of British forces personnel and MoD civilians who died while serving in Afghanistan is 456, for the Iraq conflict it was 179, and the Gulf War 47, according to figures from the Ministry of Defence.

Lord Stirrup, chairman of the memorial project's board of trustees, was head of the Armed Forces in his role as chief of defence staff from 2006-10.

He said: "Literally hundreds of thousands of British military personnel and UK civilian citizens served this country in all sorts of various ways in support of those campaigns and we felt that it was extremely important that the way they had conducted themselves, carried out their duties and the service they had given to the nation was honoured and commemorated.

"So the memorial is exactly that, it's to commemorate duty and service, it's not about the campaigns themselves per se, it's about those principles which are important in any civilised society and have always been an integral part of who and what we regard ourselves to be as a nation.

"We wanted to acknowledge the contribution of the many who had served."