Prince salutes heroes as youngsters join up with veterans at Ajex parade

By Rosa Doherty, November 21, 2013
Reviewing officer Prince Michael of Kent flanked by Ajex chairman Jeffrey Fox (left) and Rear Admiral Lord Sterling

Reviewing officer Prince Michael of Kent flanked by Ajex chairman Jeffrey Fox (left) and Rear Admiral Lord Sterling

For the first time in seven years, there was a royal presence at the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women parade, as Prince Michael of Kent laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in memory of fallen Jewish soldiers in two world wars.

The prince, who attended with his wife Princess Michael, was the reviewing officer at this year’s event, which attracted up to 2,000 marchers and onlookers to Whitehall last Sunday.

Among them was Ephraim Mirvis, who led the religious service of remembrance for the first time as chief rabbi.

Jeffrey Fox, Ajex national chairman, said the fact that members of the royal family were taking part showed the significance of the parade.

“It is an honour to Ajex, and to the whole Jewish community, and it certainly has raised the profile of the event.”

He added: “This year, there were more marchers and spectators than ever before. The march has grown in stature and the public image of it is growing. ”

Princess Michael thanked Ajex for welcoming her and her husband, saying it was “a great honour” to be with the veterans and their families on their day of remembrance.

Holding banners and flags aloft, the marchers covered the short distance from Horse Guards Parade accompanied by a military band. Arriving at the Cenotaph, their banners and flags were lowered as wreaths were laid, before marchers and spectators joined together in a stirring rendition of Adon Olam, followed by a two-minutes silence.

Standing proudly with the veterans was a large group from the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade (JLGB).

Mr Fox said it was vital for a new generation to be involved in the parade. “They must be aware of the sacrifices made for the benefit of their generation,” he said. “As the ex-servicemen and women are no longer able to attend in large numbers, we are involving the JLGB, and the relatives of those who served, by asking them to march wearing the medals of their relatives.”

Hannah Grove, a JLGB member, was marching in memory of her grandparents. She said: “We’re showing our Jewish identity and showing we care, .”

An emotional Sholto Fox, aged eight, laid a posy of poppies in remembrance of his grandfather George Sproat, who served in the Second World War.

“My other grandpa tells me stories about the war. I find it interesting, and it is really important we remember,” he said.

Last updated: 12:51pm, November 21 2013