It is here to caution us, against forgetting that true freedom is - and always will be - hard won.The Prince of Wales
Thank you, Lord Rothermere, for your kind introduction.
So many of us remember childhood visits to the Imperial War Museum. Whether with parents, or on birthday outings with friends or, perhaps, as part of a school party, these occasions form some of our most cherished memories. For a small boy, inspired by tales heard at his father or grandfather’s knee, this place is an Aladdin’s cave.
Great naval guns greet you. A Spitfire swoops from the ceiling. There are more canon, field guns and tanks here than even the most determined little warrior might dare hope for. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the museum continues as it has always done, drawing huge numbers of visitors from Britain and overseas.
Once here, though, the real genius of the place takes over. A message is passed. And it’s for the passing of this message that this extraordinary museum exists. Every exhibit, every display, every tank, aircraft and medal in its case, speaks to us of sacrifice, of the facing down of evil, of freedom bought and purservered - for us - at unimaginable cost in human lives and suffering.
It’s a message of reflection and remembrance, but it is also one of pride. In the course of the Twentieth Century our Nation - with our stalwart friends and allies from the Commonwealth and elsewhere - safeguarded the freedom of the world. It is as simple as that. The Imperial War Museum is here to remind us of this unassailable truth. It is here to caution us, against forgetting that true freedom is - and always will be - hard won.
I am particularly proud, therefore, to be Patron of the Foundation’s First World War Centenary Campaign. It was during this catastrophic conflict that the British people set out their stall for the coming Century, this great and terrible chapter in our history. Between 1914 and 1918, the peoples of Britain and the Commonwealth demonstrated extremes of resolve and courage that were to be repeated time and again over the coming years – and all in the defence of freedom and our values. There can be no greater lesson than this for our modern generation, as we approach the Centenary. It is through this museum that it will be taught.
So, thank you Lord Rothermere and the Trustees of the Foundation for according me this great honour.