Anne expresses regret at missing First World War commemorations in Canada

Anne, 73, is convalescing at her Gatcombe Park home after spending five nights in hospital after she was believed to have been struck by the animal while out walking on June 23.

The princess said she was “deeply saddened that I’m unable to join you” in remarks read out on her behalf by Canada’s governor general Mary Simon in St John’s, Newfoundland.

The Princess Royal in a turquoise hat on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire, in June
Anne was due to travel to Canada on Sunday to carry out a run of official engagements (John Walton/PA)

The ceremony on July 1 – Canada Day – saw the repatriation of the remains of an unknown Newfoundland First World War soldier from the battlefields of northern France.

The King’s sister praised the “brave efforts and sacrifices” of the soldiers who fought on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, one of the war’s largest and bloodiest offensives.

Anne was due to travel to Canada for an overseas tour on Sunday, but is now away from public engagements until her medical team recommends it is safe and comfortable for her to resume official duties.

Together we keep the vigil. CAF members from all three branches of service, including the Canadian Rangers, are maintaining the vigil for the unknown Newfoundland Soldier as we prepare for his burial tomorrow at the Newfoundland National War Memorial in St. John’s.[1]

— Canadian Armed Forces (@CanadianForces) June 30, 2024[2]

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Newfoundland National War Memorial – where the unknown soldier’s remains were being laid to rest, entombed on the plateau of the memorial.

Anne is Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and president of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The princess, who left hospital on Friday, said in her first publicly-released message since her accident: “It is with deep regret that I am unable to be with you today, as you commemorate the brave efforts and sacrifices of the members of the Newfoundland Regiment who went into battle on the first day of the Somme.

“I have fond memories of joining you in 2016, on the 99th occasion that the people of this island commemorated the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, and I am deeply saddened that I’m unable to join you again, and I send you my warmest best wishes on this special day of commemoration.”

The Princess Royal observes a two minute silence alongside Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson (left) and National Vice Chairman of the Royal British Legion Terry Whittle (right) during a service at National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire to mark Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of the First World War
The Princess Royal in 2015 during a service at National Memorial Arboretum to mark Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of the First World War (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Newfoundland Regiment was all but wiped out in the disastrous Battle of Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, with more than 700 killed or wounded of the 800 fighting.

It is not known how long the princess will spend recovering, but she is receiving rehabilitation support at home as she follows standard concussion protocols.

Anne’s medical team said her head injuries were consistent with a potential impact from a horse’s head or legs but her concussion has meant precise details of how the incident came about are not clear.

As #CommanderInChief[3], #GGSimon[4] plays an important role in honouring the service and sacrifice of @Canadianforces[5] members.

She paid her respects to the repatriated unknown Newfoundland soldier who lost his life in WW1. May he rest in peace.[6]

— Governor General of Canada (@GGCanada) June 30, 2024[7]

An air ambulance was scrambled to take the princess to hospital, but in the end she travelled by road after being treated by an emergency crew on site.

She was treated at Southmead Hospital in Bristol for minor head injuries and her concussion.

Her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence said last week that the princess was  “recovering slowly”.


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  2. ^ June 30, 2024 (
  3. ^ #CommanderInChief (
  4. ^ #GGSimon (
  5. ^ @Canadianforces (
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  7. ^ June 30, 2024 (