Prince of Wales thanks Canadian D-Day troops for their service

The Prince of Wales stood on the beach where waves of Canadian D-Day troops broke enemy defences and thanked them for their service.

William joined Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and a handful of elderly veterans from the campaign to liberate Europe for a ceremony commemorating their efforts and the comrades who never survived.

The event was staged just metres from Juno beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy, where some 14,000 Canadians came ashore in the face of heavy enemy fire on June 6, 1944.

D-Day 80th anniversary
The Prince of Wales, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Prime Minister of France Gabriel Attal (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The prince and the prime ministers of France and Canada made their way down to the beach and left floral tributes after a lone piper had played a lament in the dunes as the waves crashed on the sands.

William’s wreath had the handwritten note: “Remembering all Canadian acts of bravery and sacrifice 80 years ago.

“Lest we forget. N’oublions jamais.”

D-Day 80th anniversary
The Prince of Wales speaks to veterans at the Government of Canada ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The old men, many in wheelchairs but proudly wearing their medals, military uniforms or regimental berets looked out over the sand dunes to the beaches.

In a speech, William told the former servicemen: “I want to thank you, our veterans, for your extraordinary acts of bravery and sacrifice, on Juno Beach, and the liberation of Europe.

“All of you demonstrated heroism, and determination, that ensured fascism was conquered.”

He added: “Canada and the UK continue to stand, side by side as we did in 1944. Just as strong together, 80 years later.

“Ensuring the memory of those who fought for freedom lives on is why we’ve come together again today – to say thank you.

“Thank you for our freedom, and thank you for your service.”

The prince asked one old serviceman “memories bringing it all back?”, and with the area now a picturesque stretch of sand with beach homes beyond the dunes, he said “there’s been a lot of changes.”

He moved on to talk to another Canadian veteran, and when the conversation turned toward the ages of the men who fought on D-Day, the future king joked: “A lot of people were lying about their ages.”

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