Members of the royal family visit other countries from time to time to extend goodwill and strengthen their ties with each other. Among the royal couples of Europe that recently went on tour are Prince William and Kate Middleton who visited Australia and New Zealand as well as Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and her husband Prince Henrik.
When these royal couples are out and about, they never fail to capture international media attention. People are eager to see where they go, what outfits they wear and how they interact with the locals.
In the case of Danish Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik, they made history by visiting a significant memorial hall in Nanjing, China known as the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre. The visit that occurred last April 27 to 28 made the Queen the first sitting foreign head of state to visit the hall.
The trip was considered a visit to remember heroes of the historical event which China insists to be the work of Japanese soldiers. A Danish citizen by the name of Bernhard Arp Sindberg was honored during the event. Sindberg was considered a hero as he provided support to Chinese refugees during Japan’s cessation of China. He was only 26 years old during the war in 1937 and was working as a concrete factory worker.
Reports have it that Sindberg saved more than 20,000 Chinese refugees by giving them food and providing shelter while they’re fleeing from their homes at the height of the war.
An 87-year-old survivor of the Nanjng Massacre was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to meet the Queen during their trip to the hall. Su Guobao related that it was Sindberg who helped his entire family survive as they stayed in his refugee camp.
In her speech during their visit to the memorial hall, Queen Margrethe II said what happened 77 years ago should serve as a historic lesson. She added that while it’s important to look into the past, people should also look forward to the future.
Apart from honoring the heroes, the Queen and Prince Henrik also watered a tree situated outside the Memorial Hall. The gesture was to symbolize their peace efforts. Additionally, the couple laid down a yellow rose as a sign of the friendly ties between Denmark and China.
The alleged Nanjing Massacre took place in December 1937 when Japan invaded China. The two countries are still in row over Nanking massacre and Japanese accounts of events. Although Japan has denied it ever committed such atrocities, China insists the Japanese soldiers caused the mass murder and rape of Chinese civilians.
According to a 1958 estimate by the International Military Tribunal of the Far East, more than 200,000 Chinese were killed in the massacre. China, meanwhile, claims more than 300,000 were killed based on the 1947 Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal report.
In recent years, Japanese nationalism has grown tremendously with cause oriented groups defending Japan against accusations of mass murder by the Chinese. Some have gone online to show proof such as published articles and photos showing Japanese soldiers helping out Chinese refugees.