09 December 2014
Prussian prince apologises for First World War while in the UK spreading message of hope
Prince Philip Kiril, Prussian prince and great, great grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm, who signed the declaration that started the First World War, said his was sorry for his forefather's act on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning.
"I want to ask for forgiveness," he told John Humphreys, presenter of the programme, "because nobody in our family has done this so far."
The prince said that "on a spiritual level" he believed it was important to apologise for the involvement of his great, great grandfather.
While Germany is marking the 100th anniversary, Prince Philip said: "It's different from how you commemorate, because we are the losers of the war and therefore German people don't like to commemorate that."
But he added: "Germans are quite successful for accepting their guilt – especially for World War Two. For World War One it's another story, but no one could argue there isn't guilt on our side."
The war, which saw 20 million people die – both civilians and soldiers – is being marked this Christmas with HOPE's Silent Night Carol.
HOPE have created a special version of the Silent Night carol, challenging the Church to talk about the good news.
Churches and stadiums across the country are marking the moment peace broke out in the trenches over Christmas Day, when there was no fighting for 24 hours. Enemies sang Silent Night and the soldiers ventured out across No Man's Land to exchange gifts – some even played football.
The new version of the carol marks the centenary of the 1914 Christmas truce, challenging Christians to use this unique opportunity.
The prince is in the UK to speak at HOPE's Silent Night Carols events, apologising for the role his forefather played and to speak about hope and reconciliation.
More than 300 sports stadiums, churches and cathedrals are holding events where the carol will be sung, including the Ulster Rugby match on Boxing Day, the event at the Saracens ground in north London on 11 December, the Crystal Palace event on 9 December and the Swansea City carol event on 4 December. Premier League players and managers are taking part in many of these sports stadium events.
HOPE said: "Each event is a chance to talk to people about Jesus – the one who promises to end all wars and bring lasting peace. Of course, that means Christians everywhere need to be ready to talk about Jesus and the hope he gives us!"
HOPE has been planning these events for the past two years. There are ready-to-use resources, and Tearfund has produced free souvenir programmes for the events.
HOPE added: "It's not too late to plan a Silent Night Carol event to make the most of this unique centenary of the 1914 Christmas Truce. Find out more at www.silentnightcarols.org or www.hopetogether.org.uk/christmas."