UK & World News

  • 7 June 2014, 0:09

D-Day: Queen Hails Courage Of Normandy Troops

The Queen has paid tribute to the "sheer courage" of the Allied troops who stormed ashore on D-Day 70 years ago to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny.

And as events marking the anniversary of the Normandy landings drew to a close, the monarch warned peace and prosperity can never be taken for granted.

Speaking at a banquet in Paris, the Queen said the commemorations honouring the veterans and their fallen comrades, had left the Duke of Edinburgh and herself "filled with emotions".

She added: "With sorrow and regret, remembering the loss of so many fine young soldiers, sailors and airmen; with pride, at the sheer courage of the men who stormed those beaches, embodied in the veterans among us; and with thankfulness, knowing that today our nations are free and sovereign because allied forces liberated this continent from occupation and tyranny.

"Knitted together by common experiences of struggle, sacrifice and reconciliation, we remember those times in a way that strengthens unity and understanding between us."

Earlier, she had gathered in Normandy with veterans, politicians, and other heads of state including US president Barack Obama and Russia's president Vladimir Putin to mark the events of June 6, 1944.

The D-Day operation, involving 150,000 Allied troops landing on five beaches, is history's biggest amphibious invasion, and changed the course of the Second World War.

In her address at the Elysee Palace banquet staged in her honour by President Francois Hollande, the Queen, who delivered parts of her speech in French, also sounded a note of caution.

She said: "Our peace and prosperity can never be taken for granted and must constantly be tended, so that never again do we have cause to build monuments to our fallen youth."

Earlier, at the main ceremony on Sword Beach, Mr Hollande told world leaders they owed it to the sacrifice of those who took part in D-Day to build a "fairer world".

And he called on people to show the same courage in fighting threats to peace, as the D-Day troops did 70 years ago.

David Cameron had also urged leaders to set aside their differences on the "incredibly moving" anniversary of the landings.

Described by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill as "undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult (operation) that has ever taken place", D-Day proved to be a pivotal moment of the Second World War.

It marked the start of an 80-day campaign to liberate Normandy, that involved three million troops and cost some 250,000 lives.

Services marking their sacrifice were held at beaches and war cemeteries across the region.

In Colleville-sur-Mer, Barack Obama joined Mr Hollande for a service at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where more than 9,000 soldiers are buried.

In nearby Bayeux, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, where 4,144 soldiers, 338 of them unidentified, are buried.

And further along the coast in Arromanches, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a memorial service following a tea party with British veterans - many making their final trip to Normandy.

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