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

King Charles is abroad for the first time since starting treatment for cancer

Published Time: 06.06.2024 - 13:31:13 Modified Time: 06.06.2024 - 13:31:13

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.

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.

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.

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

em>, 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.

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.

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The King and Queen will not be the only members of the British royal family attending events in France on the anniversary of the D-Day Landings. Prince William is set to attend the Canadian commemorative ceremony at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer before joining over 25 heads of state, veterans and European royals at the international commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach in Saint Laurent sur Mer. The latter 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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