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king charles and camilla on stage during D-Day anniversary ceremony © Getty Images

King Charles and Queen Camilla lead royals as they mark 80th anniversary of D-Day landings - best photos

Princess Anne and Sir Timothy Laurence are visiting Normandy

Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
Updated: June 5, 2024
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King Charles and Queen Camilla lead the royals on Wednesday as they attended a series of commemorative events to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, honouring the brave personnel who risked their lives for freedom and peace.

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with the 1944 battle laying the foundation for an Allied victory. 

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two men attending commemorative event in suits © Getty Images

Kicking off the commemorations, Charles and Camilla, accompanied by the Prince of Wales visited Portsmouth.

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Prince William sat next to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak© Associated Press/Alamy Stock Photo

William sat next to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as they attended the UK's national commemorative event hosted by the Ministry of Defence on Southsea Common. 

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helen mirren speaking on stage © Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Throughout the ceremony, actress Dame Helen Mirren narrated,  paying tribute to the Allied soldiers who invaded Normandy as part of Operation Overlord. In a touching segment, she said: "Your bravery remains as inspiring now as it was eight decades ago."

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man in suit with medals © Getty Images

For the poignant occasion, Prince William looked dapper in a smart suit adorned with five medals. He could be seen wearing a Golden Jubilee medal, a Diamond Jubilee medal, a Platinum Jubilee medal, a Coronation medal and a Great Master of The Most Honourable  Order of the Bath neck order which he wore for the first time. 

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man delivering speech on stage in suit © Getty Images

Prince William delivered a speech during the ceremony. Addressing the crowd, he said: "I am deeply honoured to join you today to recognise the bravery of all of those like John Haddock who participated in the D-Day landings, the start of the liberation of France and Europe, that led to victory of the Allied Powers.  

"Our guests of honour today are those veterans from the Normandy landing, that came from across our nation and from all walks of life to join in the fight against tyranny. Many of those that took up arms had never seen combat before, some were still only in their teens." 

He continued: "In their letters and diaries we see their great strength. This is an extract from a letter by Captain Alastair Bannerman of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, addressed to his wife and written in his diary on the morning of D-Day: 

 'It is now 03.00 hours in the morning and I have just been up to the bridge. It is rather light because the moon is shining, though heavy clouds cover her. One can see the row of small ships and of darker balloons silhouetted in front and behind us against the grey sea.

'You, my angel, sleep gently in the nursery, I hope. Your thoughts have helped me so much. They have given me real strength. I can imagine how you listen to the news at 9 o’clock and think of me with love. I hope that Andrew’s golden head rests gently and quietly upon his small pillow and that Richard is nice and comfortable lying in his narrow little carry-cot.

'A long line of flares hangs over Cherbourg, or I suppose it is Cherbourg, and a few anti-aircraft tracer shots go up in the air above the immediate front line. Funny to imagine that there Germans run around their guns. I would like to know what they are thinking. The whole Channel between us and Cherbourg is filled with little ships which all quietly and efficiently sail towards France. The British, Canadian and American fighting forces on the war-path.

'I do not believe that I can now write for very long. We can now see the French coast and very soon we will have to play our part.

'I must go now and look for the landing markings with my binoculars to ascertain our landing points. So, my darling, on we go! I know that you are with me. Au revoir, God bless, I love you!' 

William finished by adding: "Captain Bannerman survived the landings and the war, being taken prisoner and returning home to his wife and sons in April the next year.  Too many never returned. They remain in some corner of a foreign field that is forever England. 

"We will always remember those who served and those who waved them off. The mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who watched their loved ones go into battle, unsure if they would ever return. 

"Today we remember the bravery of those who crossed this sea to liberate Europe. Those who ensured that Operation Overlord was a success. And those who waited for their safe return."

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king charles and queen camilla on stage © PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

King Charles and Queen Camilla also took to the stage, with the monarch subsequently delivering a powerful speech. 

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queen camilla in pink outfit © Getty Images

For the outing, Queen Camilla, 76, exuded elegance in a blush pink dress and matching coat. She accessorised with a button hat, pearl jewellery and a pair of cream court shoes. 

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charles delivering speech © Getty Images

The monarch's speech in part read: "The stories of courage, resilience and solidarity which we have heard today, and throughout our lives, cannot fail to move us, to inspire us, and to remind us of what we owe to that great wartime generation – now, tragically, dwindling to so few. 

"It is our privilege to hear their testimony, but our role is not purely passive: it is our duty to ensure that we, and future generations, do not forget their service and their sacrifice in replacing tyranny with freedom. 

"Our rights, and the liberty won at such terrible cost, bring with them responsibilities to others in the exercise of that liberty. The Allied actions of that day ensured the forces of freedom secured, first, a toehold in Normandy, then liberated France, and ultimately, the whole of Europe from the stranglehold of a brutal totalitarianism." 

He finished by adding: "So, as we give thanks for all those who gave so much to win the victory, whose fruits we still enjoy to this day, let us, once again, commit ourselves always to remember, cherish and honour those who served that day and to live up to the freedom they died for by balancing rights with civic responsibilities to our country. For we are all, eternally, in their debt." 

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Rishi Sunak delivering speech on stage © Getty Images

At the event, Rishi Sunak read an address by Field Marshal Montgomery, which was delivered to the troops ahead of the D-Day landings.

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helen george singing on stage in pink dress © Getty Images

Elsewhere, Call The Midwife's Helen George led an ensemble of singers in a rendition of Dame Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again. For the dazzling performance, she donned a glittering hot pink dress crafted by The Vampire's Wife. 

Take a look at Charles' speech in the video below... 

WATCH: King Charles delivers speech during ceremony for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings

Meanwhile, Princess Anne, Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Regina Rifles, accompanied by her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, will unveil a statue of a Second World War Canadian Royal Regina Rifleman and attend a reception in Normandy with members of the Regiment.

They will later visit the Bayeux War Cemetery where they'll join Normandy veterans and French representatives at a Royal British Legion Service of Commemoration.

Sir Timothy and Princess Anne on royal balcony © Getty Images
Sir Timothy and Princess Anne travelled to Normandy

In her role as President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Princess Anne will also attend an annual service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral alongside Sir Timothy.

Following the service, the couple will attend a service and an evening vigil where Queen Elizabeth's only daughter will deliver a speech in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the operation.

On Thursday, Charles, Camilla and William will travel to France. They are due to join the Ministry of Defence and Royal British Legion's commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer.

Prince William at Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee 2022© Getty Images
Prince William will visit France on Thursday alongside the monarch and Queen Camilla

Meanwhile, William is due to mark the poignant anniversary alongside the Canadian government at Juno Beach Centre. He will be joined by Canadian armed forces personnel and World War II veterans.

The father-of-three is also expected to attend the international commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach. William will be joined by veterans and 25 world heads of state.

The Princess of Wales has been keeping a low profile in recent months© Getty Images
The Princess of Wales has been keeping a low profile in recent months

The trip will mark William's first overseas visit since his wife Princess Kate's cancer diagnosis, and the first overseas visit for the King since he was also diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer earlier in the year.

In recent weeks, Charles has been seen making more public appearances, including a visit to a cancer treatment centre, and the hosting of two garden parties, one of which clashed with an event hosted by the monarch's son, Prince Harry.

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