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Prince William joins King Charles and Queen Camilla in France for historic anniversary - best photos

The royal trio attended a ceremony in Portsmouth on Wednesday

Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
Updated: June 6, 2024
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King Charles, Queen Camilla and Prince William attended a series of commemorative events in France on Thursday to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

As Patron of the Royal British Legion, the monarch and his wife visited the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion's commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer.


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His Majesty lead the ceremony at Gold Beach alongside the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. The site, which opened in 2021, pays tribute to 22,442 service personnel under British command who died on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy in the summer of 1944. 

For the special occasion, Charles looked smart in a Field Marshall No.4 Tropical Service Dress with medals and decorations, while Camilla looked elegant in a flowing white coat dress and a matching hat. She accessorised with a sparkling diamond scallop shell brooch and some pearl earrings. 


rishi sunak in smart suit © Getty Images

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke at the service and paid tribute to the veterans who "freed a continent and built a better world". 

He added: "Each of you who contributed that day – sailor, soldier, aviator, civilian – whether you fought on the beaches, or parachuted from the skies, or flew fighters or gliders, whether you were an engineer or a radio operator or an intelligence officer, your actions freed a continent and built a better world.

"You risked everything and we owe you everything. We cannot possibly hope to repay that debt but we can and we must pledge never to forget."


martin freeman delivering speech © Getty Images

Actor Martin Freeman, 52, spoke during the poignant event. 


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Musician and actor Johnny Flynn performed a moving song with an acoustic guitar. Elsewhere, Tom Jones performed a rendition of 'I Won't Crumble With You If You Fall', while singer Naomi Kimpenu moved crowds with a spine-tingling performance. 


king charles about to deliver speech © Getty Images

During the event, King Charles delivered a heartfelt speech in which he paid tribute to the those who fought in the D-Day invasion. "It is with the most profound sense of gratitude that we remember them and all who served at that critical time", he said. "We recall the lesson that comes to us, again and again, across the decades: free Nations must stand together to oppose tyranny."

Veterans appeared visibly moved by Charles' speech and could be seen wiping away tears. 


line of people holding red poppy wreaths© Getty Images

King Charles, Queen Camilla, Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte assembled to lay poppy wreaths. Following the service, Charles and Camilla took time to greet and shake hands with some of the veterans in attendance. 


canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting Prince William© Getty Images

Meanwhile, Prince William, 41, attended the Canadian commemorative ceremony at the Juno Beach Centre, Courseulles-sur-Mer, hosted by the Government of Canada. Upon arrival, he was greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French prime minister Gabriel Attal. 

At the event, he joined Canadian D-Day and Second World War Veterans, as well as Canadian Armed Forces personnel, cadets, and wider youth representatives.


prince william with gabriel attal and justin trudeau © Getty Images

For the occasion, Prince William wore a smart navy suit, his Army Air Corps tie and five medals: 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


prince william giving speech © Getty Images

During the event, Prince William gave a speech in which he praised the "bravery and sacrifice of the Canadian troops, who gave so much 80 years ago". 

He added: "All of you demonstrated heroism, and determination, that ensured fascism was conquered. The commitment to service displayed by Canadian troops is a great testament to the strength of the people of Canada."

"Ensuring the memory of those who fought for freedom lives on is why we've come together again today – to say thank you. Merci pour notre liberte, et merci pour votre service." 


men laying wreaths during ceremony © Getty Images

After the ceremony, Prince William joined Gabriel and Justin to lay floral tributes at the beach. William's wreath had the handwritten note: "Remembering all Canadian acts of bravery and sacrifice 80 years ago. Lest we forget. N’oublions jamais."


prince william greeting veterans © Getty Images

The royal also paused to greet veterans and told one how "there's been a lot of changes" in the area. 


Queen Camilla and King Charles in military uniform unveiling a plaque© Pool

Away from the service, the King and Queen officially opened the Winston Churchill Centre for Education and Learning, a new centre close to Normandy.

The centre is due to open on Friday and will be able to host classrooms of schoolchildren to educate them about how the D-Day landings were able to take place.

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

The father-of-three will then attend the international commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach, Saint Laurent sur Mer, joining over 25 Heads of State and veterans from around the world in marking this historic anniversary.

prince edward meeting veterans © Getty Images
Prince Edward chatting to a veteran ahead of the service

Elsewhere, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh will join veterans and their families at the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Duchess Sophie met D-Day and Normandy veterans ahead of the Royal British Legion's service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum© Getty Images
Duchess Sophie met D-Day and Normandy veterans ahead of the Royal British Legion's service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum

On Wednesday, King Charles, Queen Camilla and Prince William attended the UK's national commemorative event hosted by the Ministry of Defence on Southsea Common in Portsmouth.

king charles and camilla on stage during D-Day anniversary ceremony © Getty Images
King Charles and Queen Camilla visited Portsmouth on Wednesday

During the poignant occasion, Prince William and King Charles delivered moving speeches paying tribute to the brave personnel who risked their lives for freedom and peace.

Prince William attends the 80th anniversary of D-Day landings in Portsmouth© Getty Images
Prince William was joined by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

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.

charles delivering speech © Getty Images
The monarch delivered a poignant speech at the event

"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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