London, April 2018. The first memorial in honour of the Portuguese fallen of the Great War in Britain was unveiled at St James’s Church in Twickenham on Monday 9 April 2018. This date marked the Centenary Anniversary of the Battle of the Lys.
The memorial consists of a beautiful commissioned stained glass window, which will serve to honour and commemorate the 12,000 Portuguese soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the First World War.
A second beautiful stained glass window was unveiled in remembrance of Portugal’s last sovereign, King Manuel II, who lived locally until his passing in 1932 aged 42.
Together, the two windows will serve as symbols of celebration of the oldest continual diplomatic alliance in existence between two countries in the world today, Portugal and England (at present the United Kingdom), an alliance dating back to the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in 1386.
Following the solemnity of mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster John Wilson, representing His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, the windows were unveiled by Field Marshal Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank and HE Mr Manuel Lobo Antunes, Ambassador of Portugal to the Court of St James’s.
Speeches were delivered by Bishop John Wilson, Parish Priest Fr Ulick Loring, and the Portuguese Ambassador. A message from the Head of Portuguese Royal Family, HRH Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza, was read by Chairman of the Portuguese Centenary Appeal, Anthony Bailey. The Duke and Duchess of Braganza serve as Royal Patrons of the Appeal.
A reception at the Parish Hall in Twickenham took place after the unveiling to celebrate this significant event for the historic diplomatic alliance between the UK and Portugal.
The next phase of the Portuguese Centenary Appeal initiative will be the erection of a statute to King Manuel II in Twickenham.