The Queen and Prince of Wales commemorated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Portsmouth today. They were joined by 16 world leaders, including President Trump, President Macron, Prime Minister Trudeau and Chancellor Merkel, and 300 veterans at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common today.
The D-Day landings, history’s largest combined land, air and naval operation, took place took place on 6th June 1944. It was the beginning of the campaign to liberate Nazi-occupied north-west Europe, and saw 156,000 allied troops land on five beaches in Normandy; most of the men left from Portsmouth.
Some 4,400 Allied troops died on the mission, along with thousands of French civilians.
The commemoration featured an hour-long production which told the story of the invasion. The production featured stories from veterans, theatrical performances and music. President Trump read the prayer given by President Roosevelt in a radio message ahead of the landings, while President Macron read the letter of a young resistance fighter who was executed at the age of 16.
Theresa May read a letter from Captain Norman Skinner of the Royal Army Service Corps to his wife dated the 3rd June 1944 – it was in his pocket when he was killed the day after landing on Sword Beach.
The Queen also spoke at the event, addressing those who she called ‘my generation’. At the time of the landings she was an 18-year-old Princess, her father was the Monarch. In her speech, she quoted a broadcast made by her father, King George VI, at the time of the operation before going on to thank them “with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country, indeed the whole free world.”
She expressed her delight in being able to thank veterans for their service, before adding: “When I attended the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, some thought it might be the last such event. But the wartime generation, my generation, is resilient.”
Following the event, The Queen spent some time with veterans who served during the landings and reminisced with them. She smiled and joked with them, and asked them who they served with and what they remember of the day, keen to know their stories.
She also bade farewell to President and Mrs Trump with Prince Charles, today marking the end of their State Visit to the UK. The American First Couple are boarded Air Force One to travel to the Republic of Ireland following the commemoration.
All countries present at today’s event have also agreed to make a joint statement, called ‘The D-Day Proclamation’. The proclamation saw them all pledge to ensure the horror of the Second World War is not repeated and commit to work together to resolve international tensions peacefully.
The event ended with a flypast of the red arrows, and other aircraft, including the iconic spitfire.
Tomorrow, further commemorations are planned to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, with Prince Charles and Camilla heading to Bayeux for events.
Veterans are this evening being taken over to France on a Royal British Legion ship, the specially-commissioned MV Boudicca. They will be flanked by Royal Navy ships, as the ships in port salute the veterans as they go past will be HMS Queen Elizabeth, the biggest ship in the history of the Royal Navy.
Over in France, troops have already begun to arrive with 150 troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade jumping from RAF Hercules aircraft. Amongst those jumping with Red Devils parachute display team were 94-year-old Jock Hutton and 95-year-old Harry Read.
Almost 75 years on from D-Day, Harry’s jumping into Normandy again at 95!
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) June 5, 2019