The Queen unveiled a memorial in London [on Thursday, 9 March 2017], recognising the Armed Forces contribution in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
The stone sculpture, in Victoria Embankment Gardens, features a large, two-sided bronze medallion depicting the memorial’s theme of “duty and service”. Its creator, sculptor Paul Day, said it gave “equal prominence to the civilian and military contributions.” Alongside Forces personnel, the memorial honours those involved in humanitarian efforts in the region and those families and individuals supporting troops back at home.
The 25-year conflict in the Gulf and the Middle East saw over 680 service personnel killed and many more wounded between 1990 and 2015. British troops left Iraq in 2009 and final operations ceased in Afghanistan, five years later, in 2015.
Many of the royals have served in the Armed Forces, have a link to them through patronages or hold honorary ranks. Prince Harry — whose 10-year career with the Army saw him serve twice in Afghanistan — made a reading at the service, from the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The Prince left the Army in 2015 and has since been an advocate for service personnel and veterans’ welfare.
“Duty and service are important concepts in any civilised society, and we in this country have always valued them highly; the men and women who contributed so much to the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan were the very embodiment of those enduring principles. This memorial is for them.” — Lord Stirrup, Marshal of the Air Force and Chairman of Trustees of the Iraq and Afghanistan memorial