King speaks of ‘profound’ gratitude to D-Day veterans on 80th anniversary

The King has spoken of his “profound sense of gratitude” to those who fought in the D-Day invasion, as he addressed veterans during 80th anniversary commemorations in Normandy.

Veterans could be seen wiping their eyes with tissues as Charles spoke at the national commemorative event in France on Thursday.

The King and Queen also appeared emotional during the service, and the Queen wiped her eye as the memories of one D-Day veteran were read to the crowd in Ver-sur-Mer.

During his speech, Charles told the audience: “It is with the most profound sense of gratitude that we remember them and all who served at that critical time”.

D-Day 80th anniversary
The King and Queen were emotional during the UK national commemorative event (Gareth Fuller/PA)

He paid tribute to the “remarkable war-time generation” as he continued: “Eighty years ago on D-Day, the 6th of June 1944, our nation and those which stood alongside it faced what my grandfather, King George VI, described as the supreme test.

“How fortunate we were, and the entire free world, that a generation of men and women in the United Kingdom and other Allied nations did not flinch when the moment came to face that test.

“On the beaches of Normandy, on the seas beyond and in the skies overhead, our armed forces carried out their duty with a humbling sense of resolve and determination, qualities so characteristic of that remarkable war-time generation.

“Very many of them never came home, they lost their lives on the D-Day landing grounds or in the many battles that followed.

“It is with the most profound sense of gratitude that we remember them and all those who served at that critical time.

“We recall the lesson that comes to us again and again across the decades – free nations must stand together to oppose tyranny.”

Charles added: “Our ability to learn from their stories at first hand diminishes, but our obligation to remember them, what they stood for and what they achieved for us all can never diminish.”

D-Day 80th anniversary
Veterans holding roses which they received from school children during the event in Normandy (Jane Barlow/PA)

The King then saluted during the Last Post and the silence that followed.

Some veterans stood and saluted while others remained in their chairs with their eyes closed.

The audience heard the experiences of Joe Mines, 99, from Hornchurch in east London, and Camilla dabbed her eye before smiling with the King as Mr Mines waved his arms in the air.

Schoolchildren presented veterans attending the UK’s national commemoration event with white roses while cadets waved flags.

Elsewhere, the Prince of Wales arrived for the Canadian commemorative ceremony at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer.

He praised the “bravery and sacrifice of the Canadian troops, who gave so much 80 years ago” as he delivered a speech at the ceremony.

D-Day 80th anniversary
The Prince of Wales meets Richard Rohmer, 100, one of the most decorated Canadian veterans (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

He was joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, Canadian D-Day veterans and armed forces personnel in Courseulles-sur-Mer in France.

William said: “On June 6 1944, as part of the 150,000 Allied troops that landed or parachuted into Normandy, 14,000 were from Canada.

“Far from home they stormed these very sand dunes behind me, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of British troops.

“Standing here today in peaceful silence, it is almost impossible to grasp the courage it would have taken to run into the fury of battle that day.”