The Princess Royal has joined British and Canadian veterans in Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings.

Princess Anne, 73, in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, a Canadian military unit, hailed the ‘loyalty, bravery and duty’ of the regiment as she unveiled a statue to honour them.

The ceremony was staged in Place des Canadiens in the town of Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse, where in the days following the famous June 6 landings the Canadian regiment resisted enemy counterattacks head-on, without giving up any ground.

In the tiny square, the King’s sister told the gathered guests: ‘How fitting it is on this 80th anniversary of the landing and the commencement of the Battle for Normandy, that this statue has been unveiled in honour of the Regina Rifles who sacrificed so much for the cause of liberty and freedom.’ 

While Anne represented the Royal Family in Normandy, the King and Queen joined the Prince of Wales, leading UK politicians and veterans at a major commemorative event in Portsmouth, where the King gave his first public speech since being diagnosed with cancer.

The Princess Royal (pictured left) has joined British and Canadian veterans in Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings

The Princess Royal (pictured left) has joined British and Canadian veterans in Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings

Nicknamed ‘The Johns’, the Royal Regina Rifles was one of the first infantry regiments to storm Juno beach 80 years ago with other Canadian forces. 

Speaking in English and French in her speech, Anne added: ‘The statue unveiled today will forever tell the story of loyalty, of bravery, and of duty.

‘I also hope it will remind future generations to never forget the sacrifice and determination of the Regina Rifles. Up the Johns.’

Anne was joined by her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, with pair later attending a reception with former soldiers.

They joined Normandy veterans and French representatives at a Royal British Legion service of commemoration at Bayeux War Cemetery, where the princess placed a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice.

The Bayeux War Cemetery is France’s largest Commonwealth cemetery of the Second World War and is the final resting place of more than 4,000 military casualties. 

The site is run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an organisation the princess supports as president.

Earlier today during the UK’s national commemorative event, Camilla was overcome with emotion as a D-Day veteran recounted the horror of losing his best friend on the beaches of Normandy 80 years ago. 

Princess Anne, 73, in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, a Canadian military unit, hailed the 'loyalty, bravery and duty' of the regiment as she unveiled a statue to honour them

Princess Anne, 73, in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, a Canadian military unit, hailed the ‘loyalty, bravery and duty’ of the regiment as she unveiled a statue to honour them

Anne (pictured left) was joined by her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, with pair later attending a reception with former soldiers

Anne (pictured left) was joined by her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, with pair later attending a reception with former soldiers

Princess Anne pictured as she arrives for the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's Great Vigil to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at Bayeux cemetery

Princess Anne pictured as she arrives for the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Great Vigil to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at Bayeux cemetery

Anne shook hands with attendees as she continued her day of engagements marking D-Day in France

Anne shook hands with attendees as she continued her day of engagements marking D-Day in France

The Princess Royal opted for a white coat as she attended a vigil, during today's commemorations

The Princess Royal opted for a white coat as she attended a vigil, during today’s commemorations

Anne, Princess walked past headstones she arrived for the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's Great Vigil

Anne, Princess walked past headstones she arrived for the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Great Vigil 

The Princess pictured as she makes her arrival for this evening's vigil, after a day of commemorations

The Princess pictured as she makes her arrival for this evening’s vigil, after a day of commemorations

Princess Anne pictured during today's commemorative D-Day events in Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux, France

Princess Anne pictured during today’s commemorative D-Day events in Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux, France

Anne shook hands with attendees at the event, during the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's annual service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral

Anne shook hands with attendees at the event, during the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s annual service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral

The Princess Royal, pictured, was today in attendance to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Bayeux

The Princess Royal, pictured, was today in attendance to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Bayeux

Princess Anne pictured speaking with soldiers during a Royal British Legion service of commemoration at the Bayeux War Cemetery

Princess Anne pictured speaking with soldiers during a Royal British Legion service of commemoration at the Bayeux War Cemetery

Normandy is hosting a variety of events at significant sites for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing

Normandy is hosting a variety of events at significant sites for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing

Anne joined Normandy veterans and French representatives at a Royal British Legion service of commemoration at Bayeux War Cemetery, where the princess placed a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice

Anne joined Normandy veterans and French representatives at a Royal British Legion service of commemoration at Bayeux War Cemetery, where the princess placed a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice

Nicknamed 'The Johns', the Royal Regina Rifles was one of the first infantry regiments to storm Juno beach 80 years ago with other Canadian forces. Pictured, Anne unveiling the statue

Nicknamed ‘The Johns’, the Royal Regina Rifles was one of the first infantry regiments to storm Juno beach 80 years ago with other Canadian forces. Pictured, Anne unveiling the statue

The ceremony (pictured) was staged in Place des Canadiens in the town of Bretteville l'Orgueilleuse, where in the days following the famous June 6 landings the Canadian regiment resisted enemy counterattacks head-on, without giving up any ground

The ceremony (pictured) was staged in Place des Canadiens in the town of Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse, where in the days following the famous June 6 landings the Canadian regiment resisted enemy counterattacks head-on, without giving up any ground

Tears welled up in the Queen’s eyes as former Royal Navy serviceman Eric Bateman recalled his experience on Utah beach – while King Charles also appeared visibly moved. 

Mr Bateman, who served on the warship HMS Erebus, described how you could ‘walk across the Channel’ because there were so many boats involved in the invasion. 

Paying tribute to his fallen comrades, he said: ‘So many men and women, including my dear friend Fred, joined up with me but unfortunately never made it.’

Charles and Camilla joined the Prince of Wales, leading UK politicians and veterans at a major event in Portsmouth, where the King gave his first public speech since being diagnosed with cancer. 

He told the crowd: ‘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.’ 

At the Portsmouth commemorations – hosted by Dame Helen Mirren – William read an extract from the diary of Captain Alastair Bannerman, a soldier who was part of D-Day, addressed to his wife on the morning of the landings.

Tonight, as the sun sets, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bayeux War Cemetery will light up in honour of those who fought on the beaches. The light show will be streamed live on the BBC so all can witness the occasion. 

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.

The Princess Royal, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, inspecting the troops

The Princess Royal, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, inspecting the troops

Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence speaks to military personnel before the statue unveiling

Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence speaks to military personnel before the statue unveiling

The Princess Royal, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, inspecting the troops before unveiling a statue of a Second World War Canadian Royal Regina Rifleman

The Princess Royal, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, inspecting the troops before unveiling a statue of a Second World War Canadian Royal Regina Rifleman

The Princess Royal, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, arrives before unveiling the statue

The Princess Royal, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, arrives before unveiling the statue

The Princess Royal stands after laying a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the Normandy landings

The Princess Royal stands after laying a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the Normandy landings

A member of the military passes a wreath to Anne for her to lay it at the foot of the Cross of Sacrifice

A member of the military passes a wreath to Anne for her to lay it at the foot of the Cross of Sacrifice

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.

Charles and Camilla hosted four D-Day veterans at Buckingham Palace yesterday, hearing moving personal stories and seeing their poignant keepsakes.

Football boots carried on the straps of a military backpack, dog tags still bearing blood, and photos of a much cherished wife were among the mementoes shared with Charles and Camilla.

Charles, in turn, read aloud from his grandfather’s handwritten diary, recounting George VI’s D-Day entry about the breaking news of the ‘successful landings’ in June 1944.

The special meeting was filmed and will be broadcast as part of BBC One’s D-Day 80: Tribute to The Fallen on June 5.

The Princess Royal reflects during a Royal British Legion service of commemoration at the Bayeux War Cemetery

The Princess Royal reflects during a Royal British Legion service of commemoration at the Bayeux War Cemetery

The Princess Royal makes a speech during a Royal British Legion service of commemoration

The Princess Royal makes a speech during a Royal British Legion service of commemoration

The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence (second left) take their seats for the Royal British Legion Service of Commemoration

The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence (second left) take their seats for the Royal British Legion Service of Commemoration

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