Flanders Fields Memorial Garden

opening Flanders Fields Memorial Garden Nic Van der Marliere

The First World War, also known as the Great War, was the first international conflict on a global scale. Millions of soldiers and civilians from no less than 50 countries lost their lives. All over the world , the name ‘Flanders Fields’ has come to be associated with a history of unprecedented human suffering and material destruction.

In the past hundred years these events have had a major influence on our society. Today, the victims of this war still deserve to be remembered and honoured. That is why the Government of Flanders is strongly committed to the commemoration of the First World War.

To mark the centenary, the Government of Flanders contributed to the establishment of a memorial garden in London to commemorate and honour all those who fought and lost their lives during the Great War. Furthermore the memorial garden is a permanent reminder of hope, peace, reconciliation and international solidarity. The garden is a gift from Flanders to the British people, since we value our strong bond with the people of the United Kingdom. 

The garden is located at Wellington Barracks alongside the Guards Chapel which is adjacent to Buckingham Palace, and was solemnly opened on 6 November 2014 in a unique and moving ceremony attended by both countries' Royal Families and Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois. The inauguration offered a unique opportunity not only to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, but also thank the British people for their sacrifice in liberating our country.

The Flanders Fields Memorial Garden did not only bring together the military and officials from both countries, it provided an unique opportunity to twin British and Belgian schools and thus gave the Memorial Garden an educational purpose for remembrance. Moreover, in this context and in collaboration with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, schoolchildren from Flanders and Wallonia in Belgium "adopted" a cemetery together with a British school. In September 2013, the soil was symbolically gathered from the military cemeteries and from the battlefields where the casualties fell. The soil has been placed in sandbags and is incorporated in the Memorial Garden, as a quintessential part of it, enhancing the garden's symbolic value.