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The Queen was in France for a memorial service to honour Canadian soldiers, whose heroic actions broke a stalemate there in 1917
Photo: © AFP
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During an evocative ceremony in the shadow of the Vimy Monument, the British monarch reviews Canadian troops
Photo: © AFP

Queen honours heroic Canadian contribution in WWI

10 APRIL 2007

In a poignant and emotionally uplifting ceremony, the Queen paid tribute to Canada's fallen World War I heroes in France this week. Monday's service marked the rededication of the Vimy Monument, the North American country's most important overseas war memorial.

On the windswept ridge, where 90 years ago Canadian troops won a famous victory, Queen Elizabeth met French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Flanked by a red-coated Mountie, the monarch appeared before thousands of people including many flag-waving Canadian youngsters, who had travelled miles to remember some 3,500 troops who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Elegant in a long cream coat and dress, the sovereign told the crowd the battle was a key turning point in the conflict, and in Canada's vision of itself as nation. "The Canadians turned Vimy Ridge into a source of inspiration," said the monarch. "After two and a half years of deadly stalemate, it now seemed possible that the Allies would prevail and peace would be restored."

After the address a young violinist struck up the Warrior's Lament in the shadow of the Vimy Monument. Then four low flying French military jets roared overhead, to the strains of a choir led by Native Canadian singer/songwriter Susan Aglukark.

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