Queen’s D-Day ‘sorrow and pride’

Queen Elizabeth II lays a wreath at Bayeux Cemetery where they attended a commemorative service to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II.
Queen Elizabeth II lays a wreath at Bayeux Cemetery where they attended a commemorative service to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II.

The Queen has spoken of her pride in the courage of the Allied forces who invaded Europe on D-Day - but warned peace and prosperity can never be taken for granted.

On the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings the Queen travelled to the French coast with the Duke of Edinburgh, and spent the day with other heads of state honouring the actions of veterans and their fallen comrades.

Later at a banquet to mark her three-day state visit to France, the monarch described how the day’s commemorations had left Philip 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.”

The Queen had joined other heads of state including US president Barack Obama, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko on Sword Beach, where British troops stormed enemy positions on June 6, 1944.

They watched a performance that used dance, music, and archive footage, to dramatise the brutality of Nazi Europe, the events of D-Day, victory for the Allies and the building of postwar Europe.

Britain’s head of state also laid a wreath at a military cemetery in Bayeux during a poignant service of remembrance for the UK’s troops who fought and died on Normandy’s beaches.

The Queen was a young woman during the war and towards the end served as a Second Subaltern with the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service while Philip was a naval officer who saw action.

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, 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.”

In his speech, which was hugely warm and affectionate, Mr Hollande described the Queen as someone who personified the saying “Keep calm and carry on” - a phrase he repeated in French and English.

The Queen made three “observations” during her address telling the guests “the true measure of all our actions is how long the good in them lasts”.

The monarch went on to say that “everything we do, we do for the young”.

She added: “Since my last State Visit I have had the joy of becoming a great-grandmother.

“The hopes and innate potential of young people are the same in all nations and on all continents.

“The decisions we make should always be designed to enlarge their horizons and enrich their future, from caring for our environment to preventing conflict.”

The Queen’s previous state visit was in 2004 and she now has four great grandchildren with the latest a daughter born to her granddaughter Zara Phillips and husband Mike Tindall, the former England rugby star.

The monarch’s third observation was that Britain and France have a role to play in insuring peace prevailed.

She said: “We are two of the trustees of international peace and security, and we are both ready and equipped to aid those threatened by poverty or conflict.”

The banquet was also a social occasion that brought together leading figures from French life.

The Queen was dressed in a full beaded bodice with sleeves in brilliant Diamante and her skirt was draped across the front in white chiffon.

She wore the Queen Mary tiara, the Queen Victoria necklace with matching earrings and the French order, red sash and badge.

The guests dined on foie gras, served with Sauternes jelly and truffle aspic, followed by Spring saddle of Sisteron lamb and garden vegetables, and for dessert was Bourbon vanilla ice cream with wild strawberries and pink Champagne sorbet.

Roblechon and Comte cheese was also served, along with a full bodied Bordeaux white wine.

The President gave the Queen two presents, Sevre porcelain and an album of photographs from her first two French visits - an official trip in 1948 as Princess Elizabeth and a state visit with the Duke nine years later.