Thousands of people, including members of the British royal family and government representatives from Ireland, Britain, France and Germany attended the ceremony at the Thiepval Memorial in France.

Those in attendance were honouring the soldiers killed in the First World War battle, which raged from 1 July until 18 November in 1916, killing an estimated 1.3 million. The first day of the battle, which the ceremony marked, was one of the bloodiest in military history.

At the commemoration, Jason narrated the ceremony, also reciting Isaac Rosenberg's poem depicting the horrors of the First World War Break of Day in the Trenches.

Charles read the poem Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon, which closes with the lines, "As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men? Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back, With dying eyes and lolling heads -those ashen-grey, Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay, Have you forgotten yet? Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget."

Readings were also given by British royal Prince Charles and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Also among the attendees were Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, outgoing U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.

The ceremony was part of a number events across Europe aimed at commemorating the anniversary, including a two minute silence held in Britain at 7.28am to coincide with the moment the first shots in the battle were fired.