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Honour the sacrifice of India too, says Prince Harry

Pup on parade: Duke meets new mascot of Staffordshire Regiments PICTURE: PA

THE Duke of Sussex has said he would like to include a marigold, the symbol of India’s war dead, in his Cenotaph wreath to recognise their World War I sacrifice.

Harry’s comment came as he honoured Britain’s war dead at a ceremony to open Westminster Abbey’s Field of Remembrance, which marks its 90th anniversary this year.

On Sunday he will join the Prince of Wales, his brother Prince William, Theresa May and other national figures laying wreaths at the Cenotaph, as the nation falls silent on the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

Ceremony: Harry smiles as he talks to a veteran and, below, salutes as he opens Westminster Abbey’s Field of Remembrance PICTURES: AP

The duke, a former Army officer, stopped at one of the 370 plots in the shadow of the Abbey, representing regiments and military organisations and covered with tiny wooden crosses, to talk to Suraj Samant, 23, from the Hindu Council UK.

Mr Samant handed Harry a marigold bloom, which is used in India to commemorate the country’s war dead.

Mr Samant, whose plot represented India’s World War I forces, said after their meeting: ‘His elder brother and his father both put a wreath of marigolds down at India Gate at New Delhi to commemorate India’s fallen so I thought it was poignant to also offer him a marigold as part of the Indian diaspora’s commemorations.’

He said 1.3million Indian servicemen were involved in the war, and 74,000 were killed during the conflict.

Harry ‘spoke of the sacrifice, and said his father had expressed that to him in great detail’, said Mr Samant.

‘He said he’d add a couple of marigolds into his Cenotaph wreath if he had the choice. I think he recognises that sacrifice himself, it’s not a small number we’re talking about.’ Harry also met the mascot of the Staffordshire Regiments, Colour Sergeant Watchman V — a Staffordshire bull terrier.

The mascot is due to retire next year and nearby was his replacement, Private Watchman VI, who is just 15 weeks old and the same breed.

Handler ex-Warrant Officer Class 2 Greg Hedges, 62, from the Staffordshire Regimental Association, said the two dogs were cousins, adding: ‘Watchman V will have done 77 years’ service — that’s in dog years — so we’ve got a teenager and a pensioner.’

He said when Harry bent down to pat the puppy ‘it jumped up and he held it by the paw. He got the royal seal of approval I think.’ During the event Harry left his own miniature cross at the site and the Last Post was sounded by a bugler before a minute’s silence was observed.