Dame Helen Mirren led the centenary memorial to those who were lost at the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest campaigns of the First World War.
She narrated the special live event that commemorated the centenary anniversary of the Third Battle of Ypres, which included testimonies from soldiers projected onto the Cloth Hall.
She begun by reading In Flanders Fields, by Canadian poet Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae who served in the Second Battle of Ypres, to a backdrop of music and mesmerising light projections of soldiers in the windows of the Cloth Hall in Ypres. She narrated the story of the Great War in this region of Europe, paying tribute to those fallen in this horrific battle.
The service was watched by some 200 descendants of those who fought, as well as military personnel and 19 representatives of nations that fought on the Salient, including India, Canada and Australia.
The Battle of Passchendaele – officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres – resulted in 325,000 Allied casualties and three months of fighting between July and November 1917. Soldiers faced brutal weather conditions and mud, due to weeks of persistent heavy rain.
Prince Charles, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister Theresa May, among others, attended a ceremony at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres, the largest Commonwealth burial ground in the world, where nearly 12,000 servicemen are buried – of which, just over 8,000 are unnamed.
The British Royal Family then joined the King and Queen of Belgium, Phillippe and Mathilde, as well as a crowd totalling in the thousands at the Menin Gate, a memorial dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed at the sight of Ypres during the First World War. To commemorate, 54,000 red poppies were dropped from the arch of the gate – one for every name engraved on the gate.