Kate would have ‘loved’ to have been at D-Day commemorations, William says

The Prince of Wales said his wife the Princess of Wales would have “loved” to have joined in with the commemorations marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day as she continues to recover following her cancer diagnosis.

Footage posted on social media site X, formerly Twitter, showed William speaking to a veteran following a major event in Portsmouth on Wednesday, in which he appeared to say “she is” when asked if Kate was “getting any better”.

The prince added: “She’d love to be here today.”

D-Day 80th anniversary
The Prince of Wales met D-Day veterans after the UK’s national commemorative event (Leon Neal/PA)

He told the veteran about how Kate’s grandmother worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and was one of a group of women who “never spoke about anything until the very end, adding: “It was all very secret.”

William’s words followed an emotional show on Southsea Common, where the King and Queen appeared tearful during commemorations.

Charles paid tribute to the “courage, resilience and solidarity” of D-Day veterans, as he and Camilla joined the Prince of Wales, leading UK politicians and veterans at the event.

Pictures showed the King appear to wipe a tear from his eye, and the Queen appeared emotional following words from Royal Navy serviceman Eric Bateman.

Addressing the crowd, Charles said: “The stories of courage, resilience and solidarity we have heard today and throughout our lives cannot fail to move us, to inspire us and to remind us of what we owe to that great wartime generation.”

The King’s appearance at the event in Portsmouth was his first public speech and his most high-profile appearance since his cancer diagnosis.

Charles faced breezy conditions on stage as he spoke, with his speech notes blowing around in his hand.

He praised the “truly collective effort” of those on the Home Front during the Second World War and said Britain today was “eternally” indebted to those who served.

D-Day 80th anniversary
The Queen appeared emotional during the commemorations (Dylan Martinez/PA)

At the event he wore multiple medals and decorations, including the Queen’s Service Order (New Zealand); Coronation Medal (for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation); four Jubilee Medals, the Order of Merit and the Naval Long Service medal.

After the event, Charles also met veterans, with one, 98-year-old Keith Whiting, who served with the Royal Marines, sharing a joke with him and revealing that he had served on the same ship as the King’s father, the late Duke of Edinburgh.

Another veteran, Roy Hayward, 98, who served as a reserve tank crewman and landed on Gold Beach, met the King after appearing on stage during the show.

After meeting members of the royal family, he told the PA news agency: “I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them, I thought they were super actually, I was most impressed by the way they chatted to me and were so friendly.

“They asked me how I got on and how I had my legs blown off.”

At the Portsmouth commemorations, William read an extract from the diary of Captain Alastair Bannerman of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, a soldier who was part of D-Day, addressed to his wife on the morning of the landings.

D-Day 80th anniversary
The Prince of Wales delivered a reading at the event in Portsmouth (Leon Neal/PA)

He told the flag-waving crowd he was “deeply honoured” to be part of proceedings on Southsea Common and said “we will always remember those who served”.

William wore medals during his address, including the Great Master of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath around his neck, Golden, Diamond and Platinum Jubilee medals and a Coronation Medal.

The Prime Minister also wrote a piece for the programme, in which he said “we must never forget how much we owe” those who took part in D-Day.

At the event, Rishi Sunak read an address by Field Marshal Montgomery, which was delivered to the troops ahead of the D-Day landings.

Dame Helen Mirren formally introduced the event at around 11am, where she praised the bravery of the veterans in attendance.

Actor Phil Dunster reads a letter written by Major Rodney Maude of the Royal Engineers during the UK’s national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, hosted by the Ministry of Defence on Southsea Common in Portsmouth, Hampshire
Actor Phil Dunster reads a letter written by Major Rodney Maude of the Royal Engineers (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Call The Midwife star Helen George led an ensemble of singers in a rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again at the national commemorative event.

Veterans in the audience were seen singing along to the lyrics as members of the crowd waved Union flags.

The song, released in 1939, has become closely associated with the Second World War and became the basis of a 1943 musical of the same name set during the Blitz in London.

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with the 1944 battle laying the foundation for an Allied victory.

Troops from the UK, the US, Canada and France attacked German forces on the beaches at Normandy in northern France on June 6 1944.

Allied troops departed from Portsmouth on June 5, so the UK and French governments will host memorial events at both ports to commemorate the D-Day landings.

After the Portsmouth show, tributes moved to the beaches of Normandy, where hundreds of allied defence personnel parachuted into a historic D-Day drop zone to commemorate the airborne invasion of 80 years ago.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Princess Royal unveiled a statue in Normandy of a rifleman from the Royal Regina Rifles, shown weapon in hand storming the beaches on D-Day, as she hailed the “loyalty, bravery and duty” of a Canadian regiment.

Members of the armed forces
Members of the armed forces on Southsea Common in Portsmouth (Heathcliff O’Malley/The Telegraph/PA)

She then paid tribute to British D-Day veterans at the Royal British Legion’s service of commemoration at Bayeux War Cemetery, telling one he was the reason she performed her public role.

Anne joined veterans and their families at the service, where the congregation was surrounded by the manicured graves of more than 4,000 military casualties.

Before the service, she chatted to Don Jones, 99, who served in the Royal Navy ferrying men and equipment on to Sword Beach.

She told him that one reason she carries out her role “is because I meet people like you”.

The Ministry of Defence and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are also to host a joint UK-France thanksgiving service at Bayeux Cathedral.

On Wednesday, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bayeux War Cemetery will light up in honour of those who fought on the beaches.

On Thursday – the 80th anniversary of D-Day – commemorations will begin in Normandy at 7.25am, the same time the beach invasion began in 1944.

D-Day: how June 6 1944 unfolded
(PA Graphics)

A military piper will land on the beaches of Arromanches-les-Bains in a Royal Marines landing craft and begin playing a lament in tribute to those who led the beach landings.

The official British commemoration for the 80th anniversary of D-Day will take place at the British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer, where the King will join French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr Sunak.

The Prince of Wales will attend events in Normandy including a service hosted by Canada at Juno Beach and an international ceremony hosted by France at Omaha Beach, which will be attended by more than 25 heads of state.

The Prime Minister will deliver a short speech at Ver-sur-Mer and lead a “heroes’ welcome” for the veterans.