Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Queen unveils memorial in honour of war volunteers
Thursday, November 07, 2002



Britain's Queen Elizabeth II meets Rajindar Singh-Dhatt during a walkabout yesterday at the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill in London, where she officially inaugurated a memorial to recognise the contribution and sacrifice made by almost five million people who served in the First and Second World Wars. The Queen unveiled the memorial dedicated to volunteers from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean. (Photo: AP)

LONDON (AP) -- Queen Elizabeth II yesterday unveiled a memorial dedicated to the nearly five million people from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean who served as volunteers with British forces during World War I and World War II.

The four stone pillars with bronze urns on top were inaugurated on Constitution Hill in Hyde Park in central London.

Wearing a violet coat and matching hat, the queen greeted surviving volunteers during the ceremony, which was attended by dignitaries including former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

During a moment of silence to honour the men and women who fought for Britain, red poppies erupted from the four urns.

Workers struggled at first to remove the large red drapes covering the four pillars of the Memorial Gate, but eventually managed the feat to a round of applause from the watching crowd.

Construction of the gates began in October 2001 and ended this May, thanks to a campaign that began in 1998 to acknowledge the Indian, Pakistani, African and Caribbean fighters during the wars.

"It is our fervent hope that the volunteers from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean, whom this memorial commemorates, will find a permanent place in the hearts of the British people," Baroness Shreela Flather, chairwoman of the Memorial Gates Trust, said during the ceremony.

"We believe that this memorial should become a symbol for today's multiracial Britain. By remembering our shared sacrifice in the darkest days of two world wars, we are certain that we can build together a truly cohesive society based on mutual respect and understanding."