Meghan close to tears at moving Anzac Day service

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The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined a traditional Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey in which people were encouraged to renew their "commitment to the causes of justice and peace throughout the world".

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a Dawn Service at the Australian memorial, Wellington Arch to commemorate Anzac Day (Tolga Akmen/PA)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a Dawn Service at the Australian memorial, Wellington Arch to commemorate Anzac Day (Tolga Akmen/PA)

The Dean of Westminster paid tribute to the thousands of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War and subsequent conflicts.

Meghan Markle appeared closes to tears during the service (Tolga Akmen/PA)
Meghan Markle appeared closes to tears during the service (Tolga Akmen/PA)

Harry and Ms Markle joined the congregation for a service of commemoration and thanksgiving, a few hours after they attended a dawn service in central London where Meghan looked emotional as a hymn was sung by thousands gathered at the New Zealand war memorial.

Prince William (left), Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during the service (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA)
Prince William (left), Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during the service (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA)

William, who is taking a few weeks off official royal duties after his son was born on Monday, joined the couple for the Abbey service, and told a line-up on arrival that the family are "very well".

He added: "Sleeping's going reasonably well so far, so he's behaving himself which is good news."

Ms Markle may not yet be a member of the Royal Family but she has attended a large number of official events in the run-up to her royal wedding on May 19.

Meghan Markle changed outfits for the services (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA)
Meghan Markle changed outfits for the services (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA)

The American actress wore a dark outfit finished off with a small hat.

Anzac Day - April 25 - marks the anniversary of the start of the First World War Gallipoli landings, and is a national day of remembrance for Australia and New Zealand.

The Westminster Abbey service was the culmination of a day of events honouring Australia and New Zealand's fallen, and those who have served in subsequent conflicts, which began with a dawn service and wreath laying.

Prince Harry lays a wreath (Toby Melville/PA)
Prince Harry lays a wreath (Toby Melville/PA)

Harry left a floral tribute at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on behalf of the Queen, after laying wreaths at the New Zealand memorial and Australian memorial.

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, told the congregation in the Abbey: "The landing of allied forces at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 led to one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.

"Australian and New Zealand forces joined together for the first time, and a new word entered the language: Anzac.

"Remembering that so many died, we honour the bravery and determination of the men at Gallipoli. The memory of what became known as The Great War is with us as a warning and an encouragement.

"We are warned that war involves suffering and death; we are encouraged by the spirit of national pride shown by the soldiers we remember this Anzac Day.

"As the Union Flag and the flags of Australia and New Zealand are presented at the High Altar with the flag of Turkey in a sign of the reconciliation of old enemies, let us renew our own commitment to the causes of justice and peace throughout the world."

  • Took place in 1915
  • Allied forces attack on the Turkish peninsula
  • Plan was backed by then first lord of the admiralty Winston Churchill
  • Thousands of Anzac troops lost their lives

Thousands of Anzac troops - Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - died in the ill-fated 1915 campaign. Waves of Allied forces launched an amphibious attack on the strategically important Turkish peninsula, which was key to controlling the Dardanelles straits, the crucial route to the Black Sea and Russia.

But the plan backed by Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, was flawed and the campaign, which faced a heroic defence by the Turks, led to stalemate and withdrawal eight months later.

Its legacy is the celebration of the "Anzac spirit" - courage, endurance, initiative, discipline, and mateship - shown by the Antipodean troops and today the Anzac Day service in London has become an important occasion for thousands of New Zealanders and Australians.

Prince William, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during the annual Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey to commemorate Anzac Day (ddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA)
Prince William, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during the annual Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey to commemorate Anzac Day (ddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA)

During the Abbey service the Last Post was sounded and wreaths were laid at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

Turkey's Ambassador to the UK read the famous words of Kemal Ataturk - Turkey's founding father - from Anzac Cove.

Earlier, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson also laid a wreath.

Mr Williamson said: "On Anzac Day, we remember the sacrifice and courage of troops from Australia and New Zealand.

"Almost a century has passed since the end of the First World War and Britain is proud to have served side-by-side with them in many conflicts over the last 100 years.

"Our alliance is one of the most constant and enduring military partnerships in history, one which will continue to protect our shared values and commit to make the world a safer, more secure place."

The Defence Secretary met with his counterparts from Australia and New Zealand earlier this year to examine how allies can continue to work together against evolving threats.

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