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  1. ITV Report

Iraq and Afghanistan national war memorial unveiled by the Queen

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers

A national war memorial dedicated to military personnel and civilians who served and died in Iraq and Afghanistan has been unveiled by the Queen.

The sculpture made from Portland stone and bronze was designed by Paul Day and shows two monoliths supporting a medallion.

Her Majesty revealed the monument, which towered above her, during a simple ceremony of dedication.

The Iraq and Afghanistan national war memorial was unveiled by the Queen. Credit: PA
The memorial honours those who served in the Gulf War as well as conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Credit: PA

The memorial is situated in Victoria Embankment Gardens in the shadow of the Ministry of Defence building.

Ahead of the official unveiling, a Drumhead Service was held at Horse Guards Parade attended by around 2,500 invited guests including representatives of veterans, current service personnel and bereaved families.

The Military Drumhead Service on Horse Guards Parade in London. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA
The memorial was designed by Paul Day who also designed the Battle of Britain Monument. Credit: MoD

In a foreword written for the event's official programme, Her Majesty paid tribute to those who worked to bring "peace and stability" in the Gulf region, Iraq and Afghanistan between 1990 and 2015.

She added: "It is with pride that we honour the contribution of all those members of the armed forces and civilians who served our country - at home and abroad - while endeavouring to bring peace and stability to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We shall be forever grateful to them for the part they played.

"I am sure the new memorial will provide a fitting opportunity for all to reflect upon the events of that 25-year period, remembering the many examples of personal courage and achievement in adversity, and the great sacrifices that were made."

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.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the memorial event. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The service was led by the Chaplain of the Fleet, the Venerable Ian Wheatley, who gave thanks to the civilians and military personnel who served in the Gulf region, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We pray for all who in bereavement, disability and pain continue to suffer the consequences of fighting and terror," he said.

"And we remember with thanksgiving and sorrow those whose lives in wars and conflicts, past and present, have been given and taken away."

Prince Harry marked a sombre note with a Bible reading from Ecclesiastes 3: 'To everything there is a season'.

Members of the clergy also read moving poems and prayers before attendees bowed their heads for the Lord's Prayer and a rendition of the Last Post, culminating in two minutes' silence.

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and senior figures from the Cabinet including Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond also attended the Drumhead service.

Former prime ministers Sir John Major, David Cameron and Tony Blair - under whose leadership the conflicts were fought - were also there, along with other senior ministers.

Former prime minister Tony Blair (left) and the Duke of Gloucester at the service. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The unveiling ceremony was slightly overshadowed by strong criticism from some military widows, who said they had not received an invitation or been made aware the event was taking place.

Before the event Chaplain Wheatley said he sympathised with organisers over the controversy because space was limited.

Alfie Lun, 2, is held up by his mother Michelle as he hands a bouquet to the Queen. Credit: PA