The royal family paid special tribute to the men and women who fought in the D-Day landings 75 years ago on Thursday. It was an emotional day for many, with Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall representing the Queen as they each paid their respects to those who bravely fought and those that lost their lives during the Allied invasion of France.
Charles paid his respects in Normandy
Prince Charles was accompanied by Camilla to a number of events around Normandy on Thursday to mark the anniversary, including a memorial service in Bayeux Cemetery in Bayeux, France. Speaking of the importance of memorial services to honour our heroes, Charles told the BBC: "I remember the last time we were there, I will never forget the determination that they still exude by being there. Being at the cemeteries and being at the commemorations. They always remember their comrades and their friends and the people they had to leave behind. This country lost countless special people and we owe it to them and their families to go on commemorating this."
A special day for Camilla
Asked whether this 75th anniversary would be particularly poignant, he added: "It's probably the last chance to pay everlasting respect to these remarkable people who wanted above all to do their duty."
Prince William meanwhile joined more than 20 veterans of the historic battle at a special commemorative service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Giving a short speech he read the same words his great-grandfather, King George VI, read in 1944. He said: "Four years ago, our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. Now, once more, a supreme test has to be faced. This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nationwide, perchance a worldwide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth."
William made a poignant speech
William later laid a wreath of poppies in the pouring rain at the Normandy Campaign memorial. On the card he wrote: "In memory of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We will remember them. William."
Meanwhile, the Duke of Sussex stepped out solo – wearing the ceremonial frock coat of his former regiment, The Blues and Royal – to visit the Royal Hospital Chelsea during their annual Founder’s Day Parade, which commemorates King Charles II founding the institution in 1681. Prince Harry spoke of the "honour" he felt at being among the famous Chelsea pensioners on the 75th anniversary of D-Day - including six veterans of the Normandy landings. He said: "I think we should all be incredibly proud and grateful knowing that 46 of you here fought in the Second World War; many of you in other conflicts including Korea, Malaya, Borneo and that the ‘youngsters’ among you wear Northern Ireland, South Atlantic and First Gulf War Medals with pride. On this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say we are honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy Landing veterans.
Harry was truly honoured
He added: "To all who are on parade today, I can only say that you are a constant reminder of the great debt we owe those who have served this nation. You embody the fitting home that awaits them in the peace and tranquillity of the Royal Hospital, should they want it. But more widely, wherever you are, your presence is a symbol of the sacrifices that have been made by all veterans to sustain the freedoms and democracy we value so deeply today."
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