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Queen Camilla and King Charles with four military veterans in Buckingham Palace© Chris Jackson

King Charles shares extracts from diary ahead of special anniversary

The monarch unveiled entries from his late grandfather, King George VI

Emily Nash
Emily Nash - London
Royal EditorLondon
June 4, 2024
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The King has shared entries from the diary of his grandfather King George VI as he and the Queen welcomed D-Day veterans to Buckingham Palace.

Ahead of two-days of national commemorations to mark 80 years since the Normandy Landings, the monarch and his wife heard the poignant stories of four of those who took part. Showing his guests a photo of the wartime King with General Montgomery, His Majesty said: "I thought you might like to see one or two things that we have from my grandfather King George VI. This was a photograph of him on the beach with General Montgomery, who funnily enough I remember very well."

WATCH: King Charles reads from his grandfather's wartime diary

"I spoke to Montgomery when I was in Normandy. And to Churchill," replied Bernard Morgan, a codebreaker who was the youngest RAF sergeant to land in Normandy.

"And was Sir Winston still smoking his cigar in those days?" asked the King. "Yes he always had one!" replied Bernard.

King Charles shaking hands with a man in a wheelchair© Chris Jackson
Charles heard stories from the veterans

Recalling his grandfather's frustration at not being able to visit the troops in Normandy sooner, the monarch added: "My grandfather was so determined to go. He got very frustrated because they wouldn't let him go until several days later."

The King, who is patron of the Royal British Legion, then produced a book open at a page of neat handwriting, adding: "This was my grandfather's diary. This was his D-Day entry, 'The news was given out at 8am that the invasion of the continent of Europe had started last night. The airborne troops had made successful landings in the night and have captured their objectives. So that was something'."

King Charles meeting with D-Day veterans in Buckingham Palace© Chris Jackson
The King shared his grandfather's diary with the veterans

During the heartwarming meeting, which will be broadcast by BBC One as part of its D-Day anniversary coverage, the King and Queen listened intently as Arthur Oborne, 100, of the 49th Division of the 6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment, told how he was shot in the lung, three days after arriving on Gold Beach. He was rescued by his friend Walter, who was himself killed the next day alongside the rest of their unit.

Arthur, from Portishead, near Bristol, said: "These are the dog tags which were recovered after I got a bullet through the lung, and there is blood still on some of them… He rescued me, and as a family we will never forget it. We found that he was killed the day after… We visited his grave a number of times."

A veteran talking to Queen Camilla© Chris Jackson
Camilla also listened to the men

Arthur did not speak about his experiences until 2019, when he returned to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. "It must be very difficult recollecting it all," sympathised the Queen. The King appeared moved and nodded his head in agreement as John Dennett, 99, from Wallasey, told him: "When you look back at the lads we lost, it was colossal. It's frightening. But that's when you feel grateful for what you've been through."

He added: "I class myself as being very lucky and I appreciate being able to do what I can now and being able to enjoy the life that we all fought for."

King Charles giving salute at Trooping 2023© Getty
The monarch will head to Normandy for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings

John, who was a Navy gunner on a landing craft at Sword Beach, also made the royal couple laugh as he shared a photograph of "the girl I met in the dancehall before D-Day," going on to reveal they had later married in 1947. The King giggled as John said of his wife Joyce: "She was a very good dancer, so I kept nipping back to the dancehall for another dance."

Bernard, from Crewe, Cheshire, told the Queen: "When we came off the landing ship tank down on the beach, the Army were there collecting the poor soldiers who drowned on the initial landing." He showed the royal couple a pair of brown leather football boots he kept tied to his military backpack so he and his comrades could take their minds off their surroundings with a game.

"These are football boots I carried all through the war. I played 12 games of football, including one on the landing craft going to Normandy," he said.

The King told him: "I don’t believe it… How fantastic. Their Majesties also spoke to Jim Miller, who the King had presented with a 100th birthday card and who landed on Juno beach while serving in the 11th Hussars reconnaissance regiment. "Remembrance is so important," he told the royal couple. "The younger generation must learn about it and take it to heart."

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The King and Queen, along with the Prince of Wales, will join veterans at the UK's national commemorative event in Portsmouth on Wednesday, before travelling to Normandy on Thursday to honour those who fought in the biggest sea invasion in history on June 6 1944.

MORE: King Charles and Queen Camilla step out for private outing after loss of dear friend

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Operation Overlord saw the allied forces mount a large-scale invasion of Nazi-occupied France, which changed the course of the World War Two in their favour.

D-Day 80: Tribute To The Fallen will be broadcast live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from 8.30pm on June 5.

LISTEN: All you need to know about King Charles' latest portrait

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