As many of you may know, today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces launched the largest combined land, air, and naval operation in history to liberate German-occupied France. The epicenter of today’s commemorations went on in Normandy itself, but additional services and ceremonies were held throughout the United States, Canada, and of course, the United Kingdom.
The Royal Family’s official tribute began yesterday during the final day of President Trump’s state visit. He and Mrs. Trump joined the Queen, the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister Theresa May, and other Heads of State, for a national service in Portsmouth, the site of departure for many of the troops involved in the Normandy landings.
There, each present Head of State signed a “D-Day proclamation” vowing that the horror of World War II won’t be repeated. In addition to the U.S. and UK, other signatories included Germany, Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, and Slovakia.
Today, the Duke of Sussex was at the Royal Hospital Chelsea to review the Chelsea Pensioners at the annual Founder’s Day parade. He also met with veterans, including six survivors from the Battle of Normandy. He delivered a speech, which can be read here.
The Royal Family also shared video of the parade, which you can see below:
Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, meanwhile, attended remembrance services at Bayeux’s War Cemetery with the Prime Minister, and laid a wreath at the Cross of Service.
Charles also sat down with the BBC to discuss why such remembrance is important, a clip of which was shared by Clarence House:
The Duke of Cambridge attended a service at the National Memorial Arboretum and laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial. Signed “William,” the note that accompanied the wreath read: “In memory of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We will remember them.”
He also visited with veterans and delivered a speech…but not just any speech. He read the same words that his great-grandfather, King George VI, delivered in 1944 when the invasion was ongoing. I’ve included the full text below.
Finally, the Duchess of Cambridge attended the evening Beating Retreat Beating military ceremony, which has taken place annually at the House Guards Parade in Whitehall since 1966, and is one of the prequel events to Saturday’s Trooping the Colour.
There, on behalf of the Queen, she took the salute.
Kate recycled her cream Catherine Walker coat first debuted in Canada in 2016 (and recycled at Easter in 2017). The coat’s color and simplicity are appropriate for the occasion, as is the fact that it’s not a garment new to the public.
Given the Royal Family’s position and their close ties – both public and private – to the military, their activity yesterday and today isn’t surprising. It’s worth noting that this year is likely one of the last – if not the last – that will take place with veterans who actively served during D-Day.
It’s a period of time we know well is close to the Queen’s heart and her experiences during World War II, from watching her parents’ work to the (future) Duke of Edinburgh’s service in the Navy to her own volunteer work and training, have clearly informed much of her approach to her position.
With that, we’ll re-convene on Saturday for Trooping the Colour. In the meantime, here is the speech George VI delivered in 1944:
“Four years ago, our Nation and Empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. Tested as never before in our history, in God’s providence we survived that test; the spirit of the people, resolute, dedicated, burned like a bright flame, lit surely from those unseen fires which nothing can quench.
“Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time, the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. Once again what is demanded from us all is something more than courage and endurance; we need a revival of spirit, a new unconquerable resolve. After nearly five years of toil and suffering, we must renew that crusading impulse on which we entered the war and met its darkest hour. We and our Allies are sure that our fight is against evil and for a world in which goodness and honour may be the foundation of the life of men in every land.
“That we may be worthily matched with this new summons of destiny, I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication. We are not unmindful of our own shortcomings, past and present. We shall ask not that God may do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God: and we dare to believe that God has used our Nation and Empire as an instrument for fulfilling his high purpose.”