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06 June 2024

William attends final international event commemorating D-Day 80th anniversary

06 June 2024

The Prince of Wales joined a number of world leaders and D-Day veterans to mark the final international event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the beach invasion.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not attend the ceremony in Normandy on Thursday but Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer mingled with heads of state at the event on Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer.

A Tory source played down the diplomatic impact of the PM’s absence, pointing out he will see French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other key leaders at the G7 summit in Italy next week.

William spoke to Mr Biden, Mr Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of the event.

The ceremony followed speeches from the King and William, who praised the “bravery and sacrifice” of D-Day veterans who “served at that critical time”.

Charles addressed an emotional crowd of veterans at the national commemorative event in Ver-sur-Mer in Normandy, France, on Thursday as he spoke of his “profound sense of gratitude” to those who served in 1944.

He appeared emotional during the service, alongside the Queen who wiped her eye as the memories of one D-Day veteran were read to the crowd in Ver-sur-Mer.

At a Canadian commemorative ceremony on Juno Beach, William thanked those who served “for our freedom”, adding: “All of you demonstrated heroism, and determination, that ensured fascism was conquered.”

Thursday’s commemorations began in the early morning with a military piper at Gold Beach in Arromanches, who played a lament at sea at the exact moment of the invasion.

Charles told one veteran he is “doing well” after being asked about his health.

During his speech, the King paid tribute to the “remarkable wartime generation”, telling the audience: “It is with the most profound sense of gratitude that we remember them and all who served at that critical time”.

He added: “Our ability to learn from their stories at first hand diminishes, but our obligation to remember them, what they stood for and what they achieved for us all can never diminish.”

The King wore his Field Marshal No 4 Tropical Service dress uniform, with medals and decorations for the event.

The audience heard the experiences of Joe Mines, 99, from Hornchurch in east London, and Camilla dabbed her eye before smiling with the King as Mr Mines waved his arms in the air.

Schoolchildren presented veterans attending the UK’s national commemoration event with white roses while cadets waved flags.

Elsewhere, US President Joe Biden spoke at a US national commemoration in Normandy alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.

He said: “It is the highest honour, as Commander in Chief, to be able to salute you here in Normandy.”

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales praised the “bravery and sacrifice of the Canadian troops, who gave so much 80 years ago” as he delivered a speech at the ceremony on Juno Beach.

He was joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, Canadian D-Day veterans and armed forces personnel in Courseulles-sur-Mer in France.

William, addressing veterans, added: “Thank you for our freedom, and thank you for your service.”

Sir Keir said the national commemorative event in Normandy had been “moving and powerful”, adding: “My message to the veterans is ‘thank you’.”

Thursday’s commemorations followed an emotional ceremony in Portsmouth on Wednesday where the King appeared to wipe away a tear during an event where he paid tribute to the “courage, resilience and solidarity” of veterans.

In the UK, an 80-strong flotilla of boats is scheduled to leave from Falmouth, Cornwall, where thousands of troops departed to take part in the invasion, while a beacon-lighting ceremony will take place in Aylesford, Kent.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh joined veterans at a Royal British Legion remembrance service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester are set to meet veterans at a show at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The event, D-Day 80: Remembering The Normandy Landings, will be hosted by Davina McCall and feature music from the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, as well as Lulu, Katherine Jenkins, Emeli Sande and D-Day Darlings lead vocalist Katie Ashby.

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