The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended the unveiling of a memorial commemorating the 52 victims of the London bombings on 7th July 2005. In expressing his amazement at the fortitude and resilience shown by the bereaved, Prince Charles recalled the intense despair, and many other emotions, that he had experienced, when his beloved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by terrorists almost 30 years ago – together with Charles’ godson, his grandmother and the boatman’s son.
Four years ago to the day, they were joined by families of the victims, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other political leaders as the nation remembered those killed and injured in the atrocities on London's transport network.
The monument, which is made up of 52 stainless steel columns, or stelae, 11.5ft (3.5m) tall, is in Hyde Park. \
Each one is unique and they have been grouped together in four clusters, reflecting the separate locations of the bombings – Tavistock Square, Edgware Road, King's Cross and Aldgate.
Four suicide bombers detonated their rucksack devices near these locations on the morning of 7th July 2005, killing 52 and injuring hundreds of others, some seriously. A stainless steel plaque naming all those who died has also been erected at the memorial site between the park's Lover's Walk and Park Lane.
Mr Brown, Tory leader David Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, London Mayor Boris Johnson, humanitarian assistance minister Tessa Jowell and senior figures from the emergency services and representatives of other organisations attended the unveiling ceremony.
The Prince of Wales said: “My wife and I would like to express now, as then, our deeply held grief and anguish at the appalling aberrations in the human consciousness which produce such cruel and mindless carnage. “The families of the victims, the survivors and the stout-hearted emergency services remain very much in our thoughts and prayers – you are a moving example of holding together bravely in the face of such inhuman and deplorable outrage, and you offer us hope for the future.
“I never fail to be amazed by the resilience and fortitude of the British people, and it was this indomitable spirit, together with the commitment, compassion and sheer doggedness of the emergency services, which got us through that day, and the days and weeks to come.”
The Prince spoke of his “fond memories” of meeting many of the bereaved families at Highgrove in July 2006, when Their Royal Highnesses had invited them for a private reception.
His Royal Highness also spoke of his own experiences. He said: “I do feel that perhaps I have some, just some, small awareness of the shattering loss you have all suffered, as I can only too well recall the intense despair, and many other emotions, that I experienced, when my beloved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by terrorists 30 years ago next month – together with my godson, his grandmother and the boatman’s son.
“Everyone has their own way of responding to trauma, grief, injury and bereavement, but I do pray that all those touched by violence everywhere will eventually find peace again.
“Above all, I pray they will gain comfort and strength from coming together to honour the memories of those taken from us and, in so doing, commit ourselves to eliminating the circumstances that caused the violence in the first place.”
(The remainder of this report principally sourced from The Prince of Wales website follows)i
Saba Mozakka, 28, one of six relatives on the memorial's project board which helped create the monument, said: "We think it is truly incredible and reflects the importance of the people commemorated."
Ms Mozakka's mother, Behnaz Mozakka, 47, a biomedical officer, was killed on the Piccadilly line Tube while commuting to work. She added: "One of the fantastic things about the monument is that it reflects the individual and the collective and shows the connectivity of events. I think and hope people will feel passionately about the memorial when we open it."
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was among the 700 invited guests, who included survivors and victims' relatives. He praised the striking design for the memorial, saying: "I think it's just exactly right. Often, it's very difficult to do something like this and get it right, but I think everyone has done a great job."
Speaking about the actual day when the devastating bombs exploded, Mr Livingstone said: "On the day, what drives you is the work that's got to be done, but, in the weeks and months afterwards, I met many families at various memorials and it was all incredibly painful."
The Prince and The Duchess were greeted by a line of dignitaries, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.
The Duchess, wearing a dark blue jacket and skirt with a matching wide-brimmed hat and shoes, was handed a posy by Rebekah Johnson, 10, and Ruby Gray, 11, whose fathers were killed in the terrorist attacks.
The Duchess shook hands with the girls and told them: "Thank you so much, they're very beautiful. Very good curtseys." She was then handed an umbrella and commented: "Here comes the rain."
Rebekah, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, said she felt "excited but a bit nervous" about presenting the posy to The Duchess because she did not want to get it wrong. Her father, Adrian Johnson, 37, a product technical manager for Burberry, was among the 26 innocent victims killed in the Russell Square bombing.
She attended the ceremony with her mother, Cathey, 40, and brother, Christopher, 13. Mrs Johnson said the memorial was "lovely", adding: "I think the designers have been really careful to accommodate everybody's needs. I think it's very fitting. "It's an emotional thing to do, and I think it's been emotional for the designers as well.
"Rebekah likes the way that each one is different even though they're the same."
Christopher watched part of the casting process for the memorial at a foundry in Sheffield. He said: "It's very good because every one is unique, and it reminds you of how the different people are different – from different races, different backgrounds."
Mrs Johnson said this was the first time since 2005 that her family had come to London because her children had not wanted to make the journey before. "It's nice to be coming down for something positive," she said.
After the ceremony, The Prince and The Duchess met the team who created the memorial, survivors of the terrorist attacks and members of the emergency services who responded to the atrocity.
Among those The Duchess spoke to was Dendy Harris, from Crewkerne, Somerset, whose god-daughter Jenny Nicholson, 24, was killed in the Edgware Road bombing.
Ms Harris said: "She was asking what did I think about the memorial. "I said I thought it was absolutely stunning. I said to her it reminded me of a modern-day Stonehenge.
"She said it was somewhere they hope people will come and remember, but not always be sad." She said the way the memorial stones sparkled in the sunlight was "wonderful", adding: "It's the sort of place you bring children so they can just remember what the people were like but play around as well."
Ruby's father, Richard Gray, a 41-year-old tax manager, was among the seven victims of the Aldgate attack. She was at the ceremony with her mother, Louise, 37, from Ipswich, Suffolk. Mrs Gray said she liked the "modern-ness" of the memorial.
"This means a lot because there are so many different things happening in the world," she said. "This is a way of ensuring Richard is going to be remembered in a permanent place.
"This is more of a happy memory rather than a sad occasion for me." Ms Jowell told the families of the victims that their loved ones would never be forgotten.
Giving a speech at the ceremony, she said: "They are immortal in your hearts and now immortalised in this place, a place of great beauty but also a place of great pain." Ms Jowell said each of the columns in the memorial represented a unique person and a unique grief.
She went on: "Each one casts a shadow just as they did, each one standing tall and proud just as they did. "Each one will, in its own individual way, absorb and reflect light just as they did."
The minister added: "We will never forget this affront to our self-confident, tolerant and diverse city, or their lives or those they leave behind. "This is their place. But it is ours too.
"Every day from today, you, their families, will know that you have this symbol of your love and your loss. "But every day too, strangers to you will come here also to reflect and remember – on the pain of your loss, on the strength of your love, and our shared determination never to let hate prevail over love."