The Duchess of Braganza joins me in extending our heartiest congratulations and good wishes on the occasion of the unveiling of these two fine memorial windows.
This is the first memorial to the Portuguese fallen of the Great War in Britain and the first to the late King Manuel II. Both windows serve as timely reminders of the endurance of our two peoples and their continued wish to celebrate and promote what is the oldest continual diplomatic alliance in existence between two countries in the world today. An alliance dating back to the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in 1386 and one that ever since has remained in intact and impressively withstood the passage of time.
As a result of Portugal’s involvement in the First World War, between 1916 and 1918 more than 100,000 Portuguese soldiers went to war and nearly 12,000 men died with thousands of others wounded or reported missing. This memorial window serves as a poignant testament of their sacrifice in the cause of freedom and democracy.
King Manuel II played an important part in maintaining the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance whilst on the Throne and when in exile. He supported Portugal’s alignment with the Allies in 1916. During this time, Dom Manuel placed himself at the service of the British Red Cross and wearing the uniform of a British Army Officer, he started touring hospitals throughout the country. The King was assiduous in his concern for the victims of the War as the second memorial window reflects so vividly.
During his exile, King Manuel became a much loved and respected parishioner of St James’s Church in Twickenham where he worshipped for many years. On my recent visit to the church I was delighted to see how the parish continues to value and promote its relations with Portugal and my Family and I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Rev. Fr. Ulick Loring, his parish council and to all his parishioners for their continued efforts to uphold the memory of the Portuguese in Britain.
This parish has become a treasure trove to this relationship. A study of the other church windows, the nearby hall, the organ, wall plaques and several silver items donated to the parish by His late Majesty stand as a reminder of this. This new window in honour of my Cousin is a welcomed edition and illustrates the affection King Manuel was held in locally having lived for 22 years in the Borough until his untimely death in 1932 aged just 42.
When the late king’s body was returned to Lisbon and accorded a State Funeral by the republican government in Portugal it was very touching for my Family to note that locally the same respect was shown by your Borough who had nearby roads named bearing witness to this connection such as Manoel Road, Lisbon Avenue, Augusta Road and Portugal Gardens.
As Patron of the Portuguese Centenary Appeal I look forward to the next steps of this initiative namely the erection of a statute of King Manuel. This will highlight once again the Borough’s connection to my family and the important role the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames continues to play in the centuries old story of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance.