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Royals open Field of Remembrance

The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry have carried out their first joint engagement as they opened the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

The royals spent nearly an hour meeting veterans and members of the Royal British Legion and Poppy Factory as they were led around the 100,000 crosses that have been planted in memory of fallen soldiers.

After arriving at the Abbey in a Rolls Royce, the pair paid their respects by each laying a small cross of remembrance in front of two wooden crosses from the Graves of Unknown British Soldiers from the First and Second World Wars.

Among the veterans Philip spoke to was former Japanese prisoner of war George Housego, who said he joked about how old the Duke was.

Mr Housego said: "We're exactly the same age - 92.

"When I told him who I was he said 'There's not many of you left' and I had to remind him that we're the same age."

Mr Housego said it was "absolutely fantastic" that the Duke was there at his age.

"It was a surprise to have Harry here and a surprise to have Philip here really," he added.

The Duke opens the Field of Remembrance every year but it is the first time he has been joined by his grandson. The role used to be carried out by the Queen Mother.

Dressed in the Household Cavalry Cloak Order and Army Air Corps beret, Harry, 29, split up from his grandfather to speak to some of the veterans.

Lieutenant Colonel Andy Cox said Harry stopped to pat Staffordshire Bull Terrier Corporal Watchman V, the association mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment.

"Harry was with us last year," he said. "I've got a lot of time for him.

He added that Philip told him "Sorry about yesterday", in reference to the news that a British soldier from the regiment had been killed while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Ian Michael Fisher from The 3rd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) died in a suicide blast.

After arriving, Philip, who wore his Royal Navy day ceremonials and great coat, stood side by side with Harry as the Last Post was played before a two-minute silence was held.

They were guided around the 388 plots of crosses by the Dean of Westminster John Hall, Sub-Dean Jane Hedges and the rector of St Margaret's Church, Canon Andrew Tremlett.

The first Field of Remembrance was held in the grounds of Westminster Abbey in November 1928, making 2013 the 85th year.

Remembrance crosses are provided so that ex-servicemen and women, as well as members of the public, can plant a cross in memory of their fallen comrades and loved ones.

Organised and run by the Poppy Factory, the Field is opened for 11 days each year, from the Thursday preceding Remembrance Sunday through to the following Sunday.

Remembrance Sunday will be held this year on Sunday November 10.


From Belfast Telegraph