King Charles Makes First Overseas Trip Since Cancer Diagnosis for D-Day 80th Anniversary in France

King Charles Makes First Overseas Trip Since Cancer Diagnosis for D-Day 80th Anniversary in France
Fecha de publicación: 
6 June 2024
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King Charles is abroad for the first time since starting treatment for cancer.

The King, 75, stepped out in Normandy, France, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings with his wife, Queen Camilla, on June 6. The royal couple traveled to attend the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s event at the beachfront British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer.

The service was organized in honor of the massive military operation involving around 156,000 men, 7,000 ships and 10,000 vehicles that attacked German forces in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The campaign served as a crucial turning point in World War II and the beginning of the liberation of Nazi-occupied northwest Europe.

King Charles and Queen Camilla, 76, attended the British Normandy Memorial event with French President Emmanuel Macron and British veterans, where they met retired service personnel. The royals also opened the new Winston Churchill Education and Learning Centre, named after the prime minister who led the U.K. through World War II.

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Standing in front of the massed names of the service personnel who died on the day and "in the many battles that followed," as Charles put it, he said in a speech, that his grandfather George VI called the event "the supreme test."

They were a generation "of men and women who did not flinch when the moment came to face that test."

He also spoke about his pride in being present at seven different commemorations in Normandy over the past four decades. "I shall never forget the haunting sights and sounds of thousands of be-medalled figures proudly marching past into a French sunset on these beaches," he said.

King Charles III during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

King Charles at the U.K. memorial in Normandy, France on June 6, 2024. 

JANE BARLOW/PA IMAGES VIA GETTY

Moving into French, Charles also praised the "warmth, and the generosity of the welcome" the people of Normandy had given the veterans, adding that it was "moving" and "memorable."

Talking of those who lost their lives, Charles added, "Let us affirm that we will strive to live by their example; let us pray such sacrifice need never be made again; and let us commit to carrying forward their resounding message of courage and resilience in the pursuit of freedom, tempered by the duty of responsibilities to others, for the benefit of younger generations and those yet unborn."

"Our gratitude is unfailing and our admiration eternal," Charles concluded.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla attend the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion's commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 06, 2024 in Ver-Sur-Mer, France

King Charles and Queen Camilla at the British D-Day memorial at Normandy, France on June 6, 2024. 

GARETH FULLER/POOL/AFP VIA GETTY

The ceremony ended with the laying of wreaths at the memorial by Charles and then President Macron, the playing of the national anthems, including God Save The King, and a flypast by the RAF Red Arrows.

Charles' speech followed a rendtion by singer Sir Tom Jones of I Won’t Crumble With You If You Fall. Jones' grandfather died in World War I and is buried in France.

King Charles' trip to France is his most major event since resuming public-facing duties in late April after Buckingham Palace announced that he was diagnosed with cancer and commenced treatment in February. The monarch continued to work behind the scenes during the interim period, undertaking state paperwork and hosting small audiences.

He returned to public duty with a visit to the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre in London (which has not been directly involved with his medical care) on April 30, where spoke about the emotional toll of such a diagnosis.

"It’s always a bit of shock when they tell you," the King said in conversation with one patient, according to Rebecca English of the Daily Mail.

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Confirmation of King Charles' attendance at the British Normandy Memorial event on June 6 was full of personal connections. The monarch is patron of the Royal British Legion, the U.K.’s largest charity for the armed forces which helped organize the service and the Normandy Memorial Trust, which maintains the monument.

In September 2023, King Charles and Queen Camilla spent time with Macron and his wife, Birgitte, during their state visit to France. The trip was originally scheduled as the first overseas tour of the new royal reign before it was postponed amid national protests around the raising of the retirement age.

The King and Queen are not the only members of the British royal family attending events in France on the anniversary of the D-Day Landings. Prince William stepped out to attend the Canadian commemorative ceremony at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 6, where he made a speech and laid a wreath at a ceremony attended by Canadian veterans of D-Day and World War II, as well as active personnel.

Prince William, Prince of Wales meets Richard Rohmer, 100, one of the most decorated Canadian veterans, accompanied by the Prime Minister of France Gabriel Attal and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,ahead of the Government of Canada ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at Juno Beach on June 6, 2024 in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France

Prince William and Justin Trudeau ahead of the Canadian government ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 2024. 

JORDAN PETTITT - POOL/GETTY

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"I am honored to join you to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the Canadian troops, who gave so much 80 years ago," Prince William said in part. "On June 6, 1944, as part of the 150,000 Allied troops that landed or parachuted into Normandy, 14,000 were from Canada."

"Far from home they stormed these very sand dunes behind me, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of British troops," he continued. "Standing here today in peaceful silence, it is almost impossible to grasp the courage it would have taken to run into the fury of battle that very day."

Prince William D-Day 80: Canadian ceremony at Canadian War Cemetery,

Prince William speaks at the Canadian government ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 2024. 

VIANNEY LE CAER/SHUTTERSTOCK

"I want to thank you, our veterans, for your extraordinary acts of bravery and sacrifice, on Juno Beach, and the liberation of Europe," William went on. He emphasized the special relationship that Canada and the U.K. continue to share today, and closed the brief speech by saying,  "Thank you for our freedom, and thank you for your service" in both English and French.

Later, William will join over 25 heads of state, veterans and European royals at the international commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach in Saint Laurent sur Mer. The engagement brings the Prince of Wales' role as an international statesman into focus as he represents the British royal family.

On June 5, King Charles, Queen Camilla and Prince William made a rare engagement together on the eve of the D-Day anniversary for the U.K.’s national commemorative for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth, England.

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