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Prince William shares Maori greeting as he pays tribute to New Zealand soldiers killed in First World War

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 12/10/2017 Tom Powell
© Provided by Independent Print Limited

Prince William shared the traditional Maori greeting as he paid tribute to New Zealand troops who fought and died in the First World War.

The Duke of Cambridge joined Princess Astrid of Belgium in a walk past hundreds of headstones in a Commonwealth cemetery in Flanders.

They were the final guests to arrive for the service at Tyne Cot cemetery, near the town of Ypres, held to mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele.

October 12 1917 is known as the darkest day of the war for the New Zealand Division, when more than 840 Kiwis were killed.

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The Duke and Princess were greeted by the Maori cultural group of the New Zealand Defence Force, whose spiritual calls and chants rang out across the white headstones, before they were led to their seats.

William also shared the traditional Maori greeting - a hongi - with Willie Apiata, the first and so far only recipient of the Victoria Cross for New Zealand

Tyne Cot cemetery is the largest Commonwealth burial ground in the world, with more than 11,000 servicemen buried there and tens of thousands more Allied fighters, whose remains have never been found, commemorated at the site.

Before the service began, William and Astrid were greeted by the Maori cultural group of the New Zealand Defence Force, whose spiritual calls and chants rang out across the white headstones.

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The Duke also shared the traditional Maori greeting - a hongi - with Willie Apiata, the first and so far only recipient of the Victoria Cross for New Zealand.

The ceremony had an added poignancy as Tyne Cot cemetery is close to the battlefields of Passchendaele, and it ended with a bugler sounding the Last Post and the guests observing a minute's silence.

William, who was dressed in a suit and wore a poppy and his medals, laid a wreath in recognition of the sacrifices of the fallen.

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