United Kingdom

Remains of The Unknown Warrior likely to be those of a white man because of 'racial bias'

The remains of a British soldier in Westminster Abbey's grave of the Unknown Warrior are likely to be those of a white man because of 'racial bias', research has suggested.

The mystery troop's body was brought from France and buried in the church on November 11, 1920.

The idea is believed to have come from Reverend David Railton, who had been a chaplain on the Western Front.

Some 1.2million people visited the Abbey during the week after the burial, and the site is one of the world's most visited war graves.

Now the National Army Museum has suggested 'unconscious bias' may have influenced selection of the body, believed to be that of a white Brit of low rank.

The commemorative grave of the Unknown Warrior inside Westminster Abbey in London 

The identity of the Unknown Warrior has never and can never be revealed due to the selection


The Unknown Warrior's body was brought from France and buried on November 11, 1920.

The idea is believed to have come from Reverend David Railton, who had been a chaplain on the Western Front.

Some 1.2million people visited the Abbey during the week after the burial, and the site is one of the world’s most visited war graves.

In 2011, the Duchess of Cambridge followed the poignant royal tradition of having her wedding bouquet left at the grave.

The late Queen Mother began this when her posy was left at the grave in 1923 after her wedding to the Duke of York, later George VI.

She laid the bouquet in tribute to her older brother Fergus Bowes-Lyon who was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915 aged 26. His burial place was only found after her death in 2002.

The biblical text on the tomb is taken from 2 Chronicles 24:16, which says: 'They buried him among the kings, because he had done good toward God and toward his house'.

The Unknown Warrior's grave was created at the end of the First World War as a collective memorial.

Many bodies were unable to be identified and there were rows over whether soldiers should be repatriated.

The Army commander in France was ordered to select an anonymous body to be brought to the UK for burial but research by curator Justin Saddington has found that meeting minutes of the Memorial Committee tasked with creating the tomb show no mention of Indian and other soldiers.

Ingrained biases over race at the time may have influenced ways of commemorating the dead, it is claimed.

Mr Saddington told The Daily Telegraph: 'That should be taken as evidence of unconscious bias really, that fact that they're not discussed.

'This is a time 100 years ago when racism was much more ingrained, there was in fact a colour bar for black officers.

'There are wider issues with race, and this boils over into commemoration as well.'

He added that he doesn't believe outright racism played a part but that those involved in choosing the unidentifiable body may have been influenced by demands for 'British' remains. 

A ticket to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service for the Unknown Warrior in London

The parade alongside the Cenotaph in London to lay the Unknown Solider to rest

It is the latest in a series of recent 'woke' rows, after it emerged last night the charity regulator has warned the National Trust it could face an investigation over its 'purpose', amid claims it has strayed too far from its remit of preserving historical buildings and treasures.

The Trust sparked controversy earlier this year after tweeting details about artefacts and buildings' links to slavery - as dozens vowed to cancel their membership because of 'virtue signalling'.

It also previously forced its volunteers to wear gay pride badges on rainbow lanyards to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Twitter users blasted the UK-based charity for 'lecturing', 'emotional blackmail' and 'jumping on the bandwagon' as some claimed the set of tweets ruined any enjoyment they once had for visiting its country estates.  

Similarly, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said earlier this month a review of Parliament's art collection should not be 'overwhelmed by wokeism'.

Former prime ministers including William Gladstone, Robert Peel and Lord Liverpool could soon be accompanied by plaques detailing their links to slavery after a review was prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement. 

More than 230 works of art in the Parliamentary art collection have been found to have links to the transatlantic slave trade, while 189 of the pieces listed in the study by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art depict 24 people who had ties to the slave trade. Forty pieces depict 14 people who were abolitionists.

Among those listed as having 'financial or family interests in the slave trade' are prime ministers Robert Peel, who served two terms between 1834-35 and 1841-1846, Lord Liverpool, who served from 1812-1827, and William Gladstone, who served as prime minister for 12 years over four terms between 1868 and 1894.

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