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Harry given poppy made out of WW1 German artillery shell

Published 12/11/2016

The poppy presented to Prince Harry
The poppy presented to Prince Harry

Prince Harry has been given an "amazing" poppy made out of a First World War German artillery shell emblazoned with his name and military number.

The 32-year-old former soldier was on an official Twickenham visit for England's clash against South Africa when he was handed the poignant creation ahead of the game.

Harry had just visited and laid a wreath at the grounds commemorative rose and poppies gates, installed by the Rugby Football Union to remember those killed in the First World War, when the designer presented him with the gift.

Taken aback, Harry could be heard telling the artist, Harry Gray, who made him the extra poppy: "That is amazing, thank you very, very much."

Mr Gray told the Press Association: "He really liked it. He said he spent 10 years trying to forget his service number and I had just reminded him of it."

Alongside his number and name, the piece also features the original firing pin and details of where it was manufactured, and mirrors the same design of the poppies on the gates.

"My idea was to take the English rose and through a series of changes transform that into a poppy in the way the First World War team changed into soldiers," Mr Gray said of his design.

At the foot of the gates there are 15 roses which are copies of those which appeared on the 1914 England shirt - these give rise into poppies made from the brass shells fired by German artillery into the Allied trenches.

Mr Gray said the poppies sit at top of the gate which would have been the same height of the trenches and that he used German shells because they were fired at and killed English troops.

Of the poppies he added: "That means they are objects of war - that means the gates aren't a design they are historic."

The royal was joined by Former England flanker Lewis Moody and RFU president Peter Bains alongside Mr Gray as he learned more about the gate project and the success of the Rose and Poppy film series, commissioned to tell the story of rugby and the Great War.

Each film is introduced by Harry and focuses on how the conflict impacted rugby communities and highlights the links between the sport, its values and the military - it is also narrated by former England captain, Moody.

Within the films former England players Martin Johnson, Neil Back and Rory Underwood also tell the stories of three wartime rugby internationals - Ronnie Poulton Palmer, John King and Cyril Lowe.

Before taking his seat in the royal box, Harry met with Richard Slocock whose grandfather played for England and was killed at the Somme, as well as school children, and representatives from the RFU's 2016 charity partner the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.

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