His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, has visited Dusseldorf to witness a series of events to mark the 70th Anniversary of the formation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) was established on 23rd August 1946 by the British Military Government, following the end of the Second World War, and for almost 70 years a large British military presence remained in the region playing a pivotal role during the Cold War and in the reconstruction of its area of occupation. At its peak the British component based in Germany numbered almost 200,000 people.
One of the events attended by HRH was a military parade involving British soldiers from 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade during which NRW Minister President Hannelore Kraft presented the eminent NRW Fahnenband to the Brigade in recognition of their service and contribution to the defence of Germany during the Cold War, friendship and the development of the close ties that now exist between the two countries.
In her speech to the watching crowds Frau Kraft made specific reference to the close co-operation between Germany and Britain over the decades, adding: “Germans and British are close partners and friends but remember what it was like 70 years ago. Back then many doubted whether we Germans would be able to build up democracy. The British did believe in us and for that we are, especially here in North Rhine-Westphalia, especially grateful.
“North Rhine Westphalia has always played an important role for British troops being based in Germany. During the cold war, they contributed immensely to keeping peace within Eu-rope. We are all very grateful for that. I would like to emphasize that the British soldiers and their families have become friends over the years and they continue to be so today.”
She concluded her speech by saying: “I am delighted to award the Fahnenband of the state North Rhine-Westphalia to 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade. It is awarded for the exemplary relationship between the Brigade and our state and as a symbol of appreciation for the Brit-ish contribution to the foundation and history of the state of North Rhine Westphalia. Thank you very much.”
The NRW Fahnenband, a narrow ribbon, is the Federal state’s highest honour awarded to military units or organisations and was received by Captain Ian Wicks, 1st Battalion Prin-cess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, on behalf of 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade.
Speaking of the day’s events Brigadier Ian Bell, Commander of British Forces in Germany said: “[Today] is a hugely symbolic and historically important event reflected by the attend-ance of the His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge and the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Watching the men and women of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade being honoured by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is a significant mark of our military alliance and long stand-ing friendship.”
These sentiments were endorsed by Brigadier Michael Elviss who added: “Having just taken command of 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade, it is a great honour and a privilege that one of my first duties has been to participate in the presentation of this prestigious German award.
“I am particularly proud to be part of this historic occasion – historic for the Brigade and for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.”
Following the parade a reception was held that provided His Royal Highness with an opportunity to meet with members of 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade and their families. The Band of the Grenadier Guards provide musical accompaniment to events.