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Sun 16th June, 2019
 

Prince Charles and Camilla attend #D-Day75 services in France

Today, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended a series of events in Normandy today commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied France.

The Royal British Legion hosted a sombre Service of Remembrance this morning at The Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayeux. Bayeux was liberated by the 50th Northumberland Division on 7th June 1944 and honours these men with a special plaque across from the cathedral. The village was one of the first areas of Normandy liberated by Allied troops.

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The service was attended by 150 veterans of the Normandy campaign and the people of Bayeux. The theme of the service reflected on the loss of life on all sides as part of the D-Day operation.

The service featured a message from Pope Francis who said the invasion was ‘decisive in the fight against Nazi barbarism’ and paid tribute to those who ‘joined the Army and gave their lives for freedom and peace’, as well as readings from D-Day veterans including Kenneth Hay. Mr Hay, aged 18 in 1944, instructed the congregation to: “Come and stand in memory of men who fought and died”, quoting from the poem Normandy by fellow veteran Cyril Crain.

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The service featured beautiful music and included a performance by the Hereford Cathedral Choir, of which Prince Charles is patron. A two minute silence was followed by “The Last Post” played by the Band and Bugles of the Rifles – the Band itself having participated pre-dawn operations, code-named “Operation Deadstick,” on the day of the invasion.

The service continued at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux. The cemetery contains the remains of Britain’s World War II soldiers from surrounding areas, as well as Bayeux, and is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in France. It contains 4,144 Commonwealth graves, some of which are of unidentified.

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Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, mark 75 years since the d-day landings in Bayeux. (MOD)

Some 300 veterans and their families attended the service, which included three readings recounting veterans’ experiences. A bugler then sounded the last post followed by another two minutes silence. This peaceful moment slowly came to a close with the approach of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial flypast.

Image Shows: D-DAY75 Veterans, serving personnel and family walking from the Bayeux Cathedral to Bayeux War Cemetery on the 6th June 2019.
6th June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary since the beginning of the Allied invasion of Normandy. Known as D-Day it was the largest amphibious assault ever launched. More than 75,000 British, Canadian and other Commonwealth personnel landed on the beaches alongside the United States, the free French and other Allies. The invasion established a crucial western front in the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation, ultimately leading to victory for Allied Forces in 1945

Veterans at the Service of Remembrance at the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery attended by The Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister. (MOD)

Prince Charles then placed a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice. He was followed by the French Minister of The Armed Forces and Prime Minister Theresa May, who laid a joint wreath. Lieutenant-General Marshall and Sir Timothy Laurence, Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, also placed a wreath at the monument. Finally over 200 veterans had the chance to lay their own wreaths at the Cross in honour of their fallen brethren.

Prince Charles laying a wreath at the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux. (MOD)

The Prince of Wales laying a wreath at Bayeux’s CWGC cemetery. Bayeux was the first town liberated by the allied forces after D-Day. (MOD)

After the solemn part of the day finished, the royal couple chatted with the organising committee, veterans and their families, and select guests at a reception hosted by the Normandy Memorial Trust, of which the future King is patron. Formed in 2016, the Trust has worked to ensure that Normandy veterans could have a solitary British Normandy Memorial to commemorate the 22,000 British armed forces who lost their lives during the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.

The Prince of Wales meets representatives of the Normandy Memorial Trust. (Clarence House)

In one particularly interesting conversation, Prince Charles spoke with a veteran who had met King George VI, Charles’s grandfather, while serving with the Armed Forces Filming Unit. Alfred Hicks, 94, filmed the King in Portsmouth prior to the invasion. Mr Hicks said: “The Prince said I got a chance he never got, I got to meet his grandfather,” and described the King as “a lovely man, a really nice man.”

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Meanwhile the Duchess met with The Queen’s Own Rifles Canada, of which she is Colonel-in-Chief. Founded in 1860, it is the oldest continuously serving infantry regiment in Canada and is distinguished by its Maple Leaf Cap badge. She has been involved with the regiment since January 2011.

Recognising the added significance of the 75th anniversary Prince Charles said: “It’s probably the last chance to pay everlasting respect to these remarkable people who wanted above all to do their duty”.

 

Latest comment
  • It is very important to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied France as prince charles states, I think.

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