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King Charles III

King Charles pays tribute to ‘the greatest generation’ during D-Day commemoration event

King Charles III, alongside Queen Camilla and the Prince of Wales, commemorated the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings at a ceremony in the English coastal city of Portsmouth.

During the event, the monarch gave a passionate speech about the heroes of D-Day, formally known as Operation Overlord, which was the joint air and sea invasion of the German Nazi-occupied Normandy, France, by the French Resistance and Second World War allies in 1944. The King said:

“Today we come together to honor those nearly 160,000 British, Commonwealth and Allied troops,” who “assembled here and along these shores to embark on the mission which would strike that blow for freedom and be recorded as the greatest amphibious operation in history. All knew that both victory and failure were possible, and none could know their fate.”

“Those who gathered here in Portsmouth would never forget the sight. It was by far the largest military fleet the world has ever known. Yet all knew that both victory and failure were possible, and none could know their fate.”

As The Queen was seen getting teary-eyed, His Majesty continued on to say, in part:

“It is a near impossible task to imagine the emotion of that day: the pride of being part of so great an enterprise, the anxiety of in some way not coming up to scratch, and the fear of that day being their last.

“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 honor those who served that day and to live up to the freedom they died for by balancing rights with civic responsibilities to our country,” he concluded. “For we are all, eternally, in their debt.”

The King also shared a personal moment during the speech in which he referred to a recent conversation with a veteran who told The King how they remember ‘with such heartbreaking clarity’ the sight of the fallen soldiers on the beach and those who drowned before they could even engage in combat. Recently, four D-Day veterans were hosted by Their Royal Highnesses at Buckingham Palace to share their personal stories and keepsakes from that time in their lives.

Dog tags still with blood stains, photos of one’s wife, and football boots carried on the straps of a military backpack were just some of the items shared with The King and Queen. King Charles also shared family memories from that time as he read aloud his grandfather’s handwritten diary that recounted George VI’s D-Day entry following the breaking news of ‘successful landings’ in 1944.

Charles will have his first trip out of the country since returning to public duties following his cancer diagnosis tomorrow. The King, alongside The Queen and the Prince of Wales, will head to France for more commemorative events for the official D-Day commemorations alongside world leaders and royalty.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.