Prince William backs plans to mark First World War Christmas Truce

Posted on on 08 May 2014
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Prince William, who is President of the Football Association, has lent his support to a series of educational  initiatives and a memorial design competition to mark the First World War Christmas Truce.

In the winter of 1914, groups of men from opposing sides on the Western Front downed arms and played football with one another and exchanged gifts.

Once news of the unofficial 'Christmas Truce' spread, those who had taken part on both sides were reprimanded by their commanding officers.

Prince William described the episode as remaining "wholly relevant today as a message of hope over adversity, even in the bleakest of times" and that it is a story that "we all grew up with".

A joint project between the FA, Premier League, Football League and the British Council entitled Football Remembers, will see education packs to 30,000 schools across the UK.

The pack includes resources to help children learn about the event – including eyewitness accounts, photos, drawings and letters from soldiers, some of which have never been published before.

Prince William will support initiatives throughout the year and described Football Remembers as "a powerful way to engage and educate young people about such an important moment in our history".

Additionally, schools and football academies have been asked to submit designs for a memorial reflecting the football played during the truce.

The winning design will be announced by the Prince and England forward Theo Walcott and will stand permanently at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. It is expected to be unveiled in December 2014.

There will also be week-long remembrance period in December. During this time every team in the Premier League and Football League - through to the grassroots - and  every FA-registered club, County FA and UK primary and secondary school are all being asked to take part in a combined photo before the game, as happened on the battlefields on the Western Front.

The FA's Chairman, Greg Dyke, said that by bringing the story of the Christmas Truce to a new generation "we can also remind how football can be a positive force in bringing people together - even at the worst of times".

“Having just been to visit the battlefields and memorial sites in northern France, I saw at first hand just how much a part football played in the First World War".

“The scale of the loss is unthinkable and it is only right and fitting the game comes together to pay tribute to those that made the ultimate sacrifice".

Source: Football Association press release

Date of press release publication: 09/05/2014

Images courtesy of the Football Association

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News