Australia’s and New Zealand’s recent natural disasters proved the dominant theme at the 96th commemoration of Anzac Day at Hyde Park in London.
Around 2,000 people turned out for the sombre service, honouring the thousands of lives of servicemen and women lost at war.
On a chilly London morning, Principal Chaplain of the Royal Australian Navy, Garry Lock, said the spirit of the Anzac’s was still shown in the “disaster recovery” efforts of both countries’ emergency service personnel.
“The last tragic six months have demonstrated that both of our nations understand and can put into action the enduring Anzac values.”
“Courageous and amazing young men and women in our defence forces have continued to exhibit extraordinary heroism and courage in many situations… tragically some have died,” he said.
The service was attended by hundreds of New Zealand visitors due to the attendance of Prime Minister John Key who is in Britain for the royal wedding.
Mr Key told the attending veterans, current defence personnel and families, of the bond shown between both countries during the Queensland floods and the Christchurch earthquake.
“We have been overwhelmed by the instant and incredibly generous Australian response. The presence of Australian emergency services on the ground… has been a running testament to the Anzac spirit.”
Also see: Anzac Day commemorations at Westminster Abbey and other events around the UK
“In times of sadness we are made stronger by the ties that bind us. From hardship comes mateship,” he said.
More than 180 people were killed in the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February.
As the last post rung out across Hyde Park Corner, a two minute silence followed.
Metropolitan Police stopped traffic so that not a single voice or noise was heard, only the singing of the early morning birds.
Also see: Anzac Day services around the world
Mr Key and the Australian High Commissioner John Dauth laid wreaths as the sun rose, along with representatives of both defence forces.
Australians who attended the service said they were incredibly proud to have taken part.
Max McGovern, 25, from Eden in NSW said: “It’s the first time we’ve been here, great turnout, a lot more than we expected.”
Hundreds also turned out for the wreath laying service at the Cenotaph outside Whitehall.
Despite Westminster Abbey hosting the royal wedding just four days later, the annual commemoration and thanksgiving service was attended by almost 2,000 people.
The service was officiated by Reverend John Hall who said the Anzac spirit was still evident today.
“There were good things that resulted (from the Christchurch earthquake and Queensland floods)… like friendship. Death is for real, but it’s not the final conqueror,” he said.
Nicholas Sutherland was one of a number of young people from Australia and New Zealand chosen to attend the ceremony.
“Let us pray for those who have been left vulnerable, displaced, bereaved, or destitute by war or by natural disaster, in particular at this time for those devastated by earthquake in Christchurch, and by flood and bushfire in Australia,” he said.
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