King and Queen appear emotional amid tributes to ‘courage’ of D-Day veterans | UK News

The King and Queen appeared to be moved to tears as they paid tribute to the “courage and service” of veterans at commemorations for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

At an event in Portsmouth, the King said it was “our duty” to ensure the “sacrifice” made by the wartime generation in “replacing tyranny with freedom” was never forgotten.

Pictures showed the King appearing to wipe a tear from his eye at an event which saw him make his first public speech and his most high-profile appearance since his cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

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The Queen seemed to be emotional following words from Royal Navy serviceman Eric Bateman at the major event, which was also attended by the Prince of Wales, politicians and veterans.

Addressing the crowd, the King said: “The stories of courage, resilience and solidarity we have heard today and throughout our lives cannot fail to move us, to inspire us and to remind us of what we owe to that great wartime generation.

“It is our privilege to hear that testimony, but our role is not purely passive.

“It is our duty to ensure that we and future generations do not forget their service and their sacrifice in replacing tyranny with freedom.”

The King praised the “truly collective effort” of those on the home front during the Second World War and said Britain was “eternally” indebted to those who served.

William read an extract from the diary of Captain Alastair Bannerman of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, a soldier who was part of D-Day, addressed to his wife on the morning of the landings.

He told the flag-waving crowd he was “deeply honoured” to be part of proceedings on Southsea Common and said “we will always remember those who served”.

He wore medals during his address, including the Great Master of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath around his neck, Golden, Diamond and Platinum Jubilee medals and a coronation medal.

Pic: Reuters

Pic: PA
Pic: PA

Dame Helen Mirren formally introduced the event at around 11am, where she praised the bravery of the veterans in attendance.

Children waved Union Jack flags as actor Phil Dunster appeared on stage in 1940s military clothing to read a letter written by Major Rodney Maude of the Royal Engineers 48 hours before D-Day.

Call The Midwife star Helen George led an ensemble of singers in a rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again, with the crowd joining in with the lyrics from the 1939 song.

The Prince of Wales speaks with a D-Day veteran as King Charles III and Queen Camilla lead the commemorative events in Portsmouth.
The Prince of Wales speaks with a D-Day veteran in Portsmouth. Pic: Reuters

Some veterans will attend two days of remembrance events in Portsmouth to mark the historic milestone.

‘I’m very lucky to be here’

Elsewhere on Wednesday, a D-Day veteran leading an act of remembrance saluted fallen soldiers as the Last Post was played at a ceremony in Normandy.

Some 11 veterans with the Spirit of Normandy Trust joined commemorations in Colleville-Montgomery.

Royal Navy veteran Alec Penstone, 99, who served on HMS Campania, said: “I’m surprised I’m still here, I didn’t expect to be. I’m very lucky.”

PABest Bernard Morgan, 100, a veteran from Cheshire, pays tribute at the Bayeux War Cemetery ahead of a service of commemoration for the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2024.
Bernard Morgan, aged 100 and a veteran from Cheshire, pays tribute at the Bayeux War Cemetery. Pic: PA

Read more on Sky News:
Are the sacrifices made by Allied troops being forgotten?
Legacy of the Mad Piper who played bagpipes on D-Day beaches

On Wednesday evening, the Royal British Legion will host a commemoration service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bayeux War Cemetery in France.

The cemetery will also light up in honour of those who fought on the beaches.

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with the 1944 battle laying the foundation for an Allied victory.

Troops from the UK, the US, Canada and France attacked German forces on the beaches at Normandy in northern France on 6 June 1944.

Allied troops departed from Portsmouth on 5 June.

Veterans take centre stage at emotional event

Senior royals were sitting in the front row, but it was the veterans who took centre stage.

And when Eric Batemen, who had served on board HMS Erebus, spoke about D-Day, it was a moment that moved the Queen to tears.

The whole ceremony was full of emotion, as Portsmouth paused to remember those who risked and gave their lives.

It was a date the King didn’t want to miss.

Much of his calendar was cancelled after his cancer diagnosis, but he knows how much these milestones mean.

And after the event had finished, the King and Queen, along with Prince William, heard the veterans’ stories and recollections first-hand.

The veterans told us how much it had meant.

It was a poignant day, and surely the last-ever large gathering of those who can still say “I was there”.


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