William and Kate make unannounced visit to Grenfell Tower survivors five years after tragedy

William and Kate make unannounced visit to Grenfell Tower survivors five years after tragedy 2
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William and Kate joined mourners at Westminster Abbey as Britain remembers the 72 victims of Grenfell Tower who died five years ago today.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stood with survivors of the fire along and the bereaved at a memorial service also attended by MPs including Theresa May, who was prime minister at the time.

The royal couple have long supported survivors and the families who died in the fire on June 14, 2017, which was accelerated by deadly combustible cladding and where many of those who died had been told to stay in their flats. 72 people died in the tragedy – but more are feared to have perished but were never identified.

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And today with tears streaming down the faces of mourners, dressed in green and clutching photographs of their loved ones, the fifth anniversary was marked. There are a number of other events planned for today, including outside the shell of Grenfell.

Prince William shakes the hand of two young attendees at the Grenfell Tower memorial service in London

Prince William shakes the hand of two young attendees at the Grenfell Tower memorial service in London

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives during their unannounced visit to the memorial service at the base of Grenfell Tower earlier today

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives during their unannounced visit to the memorial service at the base of Grenfell Tower earlier today

William and Kate make unannounced visit to Grenfell Tower survivors five years after tragedy 3

William and Kate have long supported survivors and families who died in the tragedy, which took 72 lives when a fire took hold in the tower block on June 14, 2017

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Prince William and Kate Middleton look sombre as they attend a memorial service marking the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy

Prince William and Kate Middleton look sombre as they attend a memorial service marking the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy

William and Kate sit among the congregation during the unannounced visit to today's wreath laying service at the base of Grenfell Tower

William and Kate sit among the congregation during the unannounced visit to today’s wreath laying service at the base of Grenfell Tower

After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison 'Forever in our hearts' - the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington. Pictured: The Duchess of Cambridge today

After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison ‘Forever in our hearts’ – the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington. Pictured: The Duchess of Cambridge today

Prince William speaks at the memorial service at the base of Grenfell Tower. Mourners were dressed in green and clutching photographs of loved ones

Prince William speaks at the memorial service at the base of Grenfell Tower. Mourners were dressed in green and clutching photographs of loved ones

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William and Kate were present as the congregation took part in the special service to commemorate those lost in the tragedy

William and Kate were present as the congregation took part in the special service to commemorate those lost in the tragedy

Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives are releasing 18 green balloons from the base of the west London tower to represent each child who died there five years ago. Pictured: Prince William speaks with fellow attendees on Tuesday afternoon

Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives are releasing 18 green balloons from the base of the west London tower to represent each child who died there five years ago. Pictured: Prince William speaks with fellow attendees on Tuesday afternoon

It is one of several events at which Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the community will gather on Tuesday, five years on from the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War

It is one of several events at which Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the community will gather on Tuesday, five years on from the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War

The Duke of Cambridge is pictured arriving at the memorial service on Tuesday afternoon

The Duke of Cambridge is pictured arriving at the memorial service on Tuesday afternoon

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Hundreds of people connected to Grenfell Tower have heard a reading from the Quran at a multi-faith service being held at the base of the building.

Christian prayers were also being read by Reverend Gerard Skinner from the Roman Catholic Parish of Notting Hill.

Following the readings, the local Soul Sanctuary Choir began a rendition of Amazing Grace.

Today’s congregation stood as the Westminster Abbey special service choir sang Psalm 102:1: ‘Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee.’

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Mrs May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Housing Secretary Michael Gove, former building safety and fire minister Stephen Greenhalgh, and shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy sat to the side of the pulpit. Journalist Jon Snow sat in the front row and also spoke to the congregation.

The names of the 72 men, women and children who lost their lives in the worst fire in a generation were also read out.

Multi-faith leaders said the names of the victims of the tragedy, during a service at Westminster Abbey to remember those who perished in the tower block fire on June 14 2017.

After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison ‘Forever in our hearts’ – the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington.

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Theresa May and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove lower their heads in prayer during the service in Westminster Abbey today

Theresa May and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove lower their heads in prayer during the service in Westminster Abbey today

Theresa May and community volunteer Claire Walker speak before the Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey today

 Theresa May and community volunteer Claire Walker speak before the Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey today

A green ribbon is tied to railings below the empty shell of the building, where loved ones continue to commemorate those lost in the fire

A green ribbon is tied to railings below the empty shell of the building, where loved ones continue to commemorate those lost in the fire

Grenfell Tower went up in flames five years ago today in the early hours of June 14, 2017, and became the worst fire in a generation

Grenfell Tower went up in flames five years ago today in the early hours of June 14, 2017, and became the worst fire in a generation

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Campaigners have continued to question why nobody has ever been prosecuted in relation to the blaze, which took place five years ago today

Campaigners have continued to question why nobody has ever been prosecuted in relation to the blaze, which took place five years ago today

Opening the service, the very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, said the loss and anguish ‘are still vivid and sharp’ as the congregation gathered ‘in sorrow and in pain’.

He said: ‘Here we renew our commitment to remember those we have lost.

‘We gather as those who look for justice and a renewed commitment to securing safety in our homes, safety in times of fire.

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‘Grateful for the support of the communities and individuals that have sustained the bereaved and the survivors over the last five years, we meet in faith and hope looking to a better, safer, surer future.’

It came as politicians paid tribute on social media, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeting: ‘Today marks five years since the Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of 72 people.

‘My thoughts are with the survivors, those who lost loved ones and the wider community.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer posted: ‘Five years on from the Grenfell tower fire we remember the 72 people killed.

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‘The Grenfell community are courageous in their pursuit of justice and change.

‘We stand with them. To honour the memories of those lost we must prevent such a tragedy happening again.

Mr Khan tweeted: ‘Along with all Londoners I stand with the Grenfell community, today on the fifth anniversary of that terrible tragedy, and always.

‘Together, we will get the answers, justice and change that we need to protect communities in London and across the rest of our country.’

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The loss of 72 lives inside Grenfell Tower made it the worst fire in a British residential building since the Second World War

The loss of 72 lives inside Grenfell Tower made it the worst fire in a British residential building since the Second World War

The Dean of Westminster David Hoyle addresses the congregation on the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy at Westminster Abbey

The Dean of Westminster David Hoyle addresses the congregation on the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy at Westminster Abbey

People arrive for a Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey earlier today, where tributes were paid to those who lost their lives in the tragedy

People arrive for a Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey earlier today, where tributes were paid to those who lost their lives in the tragedy

It is one of several events at which Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the community will gather on Tuesday, five years on from the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War.

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At 2pm a 72-second silence will be observed at Westfield shopping centre, after which the names of the 72 victims will be read out over the public address system.

Later in the afternoon, cording around the tower in north Kensington will be removed so survivors, the bereaved and community groups can gather at its base for a multifaith service and lay flowers and wreaths.

Natasha Elcock, chairwoman of campaign group Grenfell United, said: ‘This week will be a difficult week for everyone affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

‘For many of us the events five years ago are still so raw in our minds and our losses remain heavy in our hearts.’

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In the evening, firefighters from across the country will form a guard of honour as members of the community take part in a silent walk starting from the base of the tower.

Pete Wolfenden, a firefighter who responded to the blaze, said: ‘It’s been five years since the Grenfell Tower fire and the thoughts and wishes go out from all London firefighters and fire control staff personnel to the survivors and friends and family of those who lost their lives in this appalling incident, the worst domestic blaze in living memory.

‘We also remember the brave and courageous members of all the emergency services who attended on the night and subsequent days, some of whom still suffer ill-health and bear the mental scars of attending that traumatic incident.’

Some in the crowd held flowers in memory of loved ones, with this person hold a white rose in Westminster Abbey during the service

Some in the crowd held flowers in memory of loved ones, with this person hold a white rose in Westminster Abbey during the service

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Sir Martin Moore-Bick (centre), who led the public inquiry into the cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower, attended the ceremony today

Sir Martin Moore-Bick (centre), who led the public inquiry into the cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower, attended the ceremony today

A community choir dressed in green and black performs at the Grenfell Tower fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey today

A community choir dressed in green and black performs at the Grenfell Tower fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey today

A tree is decorated in green and with placards near to the remains of Grenfell Tower today, where the memory of the tragedy still looms large

A tree is decorated in green and with placards near to the remains of Grenfell Tower today, where the memory of the tragedy still looms large

Flowers and tributes to those who lost their lives in the tragedy have been placed at a wall in the area, with the remains of the tower in the background

Flowers and tributes to those who lost their lives in the tragedy have been placed at a wall in the area, with the remains of the tower in the background

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Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: ‘Firefighters and the Grenfell community have a bond that was forged in tragedy, and the Fire Brigades Union stands in solidarity with all bereaved, survivors and residents.

‘Today, on the fifth anniversary of the fire, it is a time for reflection, and to remember all those who lost their lives, and the loved ones they left behind. Their legacy lives on in the fight for justice.

‘The community have faced constant denials from those responsible for Grenfell being covered in cladding as flammable as petrol.

‘They have faced a wait for criminal charges that continues to this day. They inspire us all with their relentless fight for justice and we continue to stand in solidarity with them every step of the way.’

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London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said he has found the strength and dignity of the Grenfell community ‘humbling and inspiring’.

He added: ‘I give my commitment that we will continue to listen and make changes to our service and work to drive improvements in the built environment to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.’

A spokeswoman for campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said: ‘Today we stand with the Grenfell bereaved, survivors and community. Forever in our hearts.

‘The Grenfell Tower fire has become a symbol of the social inequality and injustice that exists in our country.

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‘Seventy-two people lost their lives, many people lost their homes, possessions, families and loved ones.

‘The first duty of any government is to protect the lives of its citizens. From the right to life and including the duty to provide adequate housing, these duties are enshrined in law and are where the Government has and continues to fail.’

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