Prince William has stepped in to represent Britain on the world stage in his father’s place as he attends a moving ceremony to honour the heroes of D-Day.

The Prince of Wales has joined world leaders including US president Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau at Omaha Beach, to mark the historic event on its 80th anniversary.

The 41-year-old is deputising for his father King Charles at the major event while His Majesty continues to recover after undergoing treatment for cancer earlier this year.

The monarch had been present at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer earlier in the day, paying tribute to the ‘remarkable wartime generation’ who put their lives on the line to end the Nazi occupation of Europe.

However, he and Queen Camilla have decided not attend the international commemorative ceremony in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer which is 20 miles (32km) away, giving his eldest son and heir to the throne William a chance to shine.

He joins heads of state in attendance alongside King Frederik X of Denmark and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while Defence Secretary Grant Shapps is also there.

Photographs show William greeting Zelensky as they attended the ceremony on Omaha Beach earlier today. 

Ahead of the meeting William surprised veterans and people who had gathered in Arromanches, also known as Gold Beach, to mark the milestone. 

The Prince, who was gifted a pin by one veteran in the seaside town and saw others pass along their well wishes to his father, stopped at the French town’s D-day museum following his speech at the Canadian commemoration ceremony earlier in the day.

The Prince of Wales has stepped in to represent Britain on the world stage in his father's place as he attends a moving ceremony to honour the heroes of D-Day

The Prince of Wales has stepped in to represent Britain on the world stage in his father’s place as he attends a moving ceremony to honour the heroes of D-Day

The Prince of Wales has joined world leaders including US president Joe Biden , France 's Emmanuel Macron and Canada 's Justin Trudeau at Omaha Beach, to mark the historic event on its 80th anniversary

The Prince of Wales has joined world leaders including US president Joe Biden , France ‘s Emmanuel Macron and Canada ‘s Justin Trudeau at Omaha Beach, to mark the historic event on its 80th anniversary

The Prince of Wales meets the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they attend the International commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach, joining over 25 Heads of State and veterans from around the world

The Prince of Wales meets the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they attend the International commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach, joining over 25 Heads of State and veterans from around the world 

Prince of Wales talks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska at the International commemorative ceremony

Prince of Wales talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska at the International commemorative ceremony

The Prince of Wales attends the official international ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

The Prince of Wales attends the official international ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre left) and the Prince of Wales smile together as they attend D-Day commemorations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre left) and the Prince of Wales smile together as they attend D-Day commemorations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska, arrive at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska, arrive at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska as they arrive

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska as they arrive

The Prince of Wales (left) talks to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as world leaders gathered to remember the D-Day landings

The Prince of Wales (left) talks to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as world leaders gathered to remember the D-Day landings

Prince William seemed in fine spirits as he spoke to veterans and members of the public during a surprise visit to Arromanches this afternoon

Prince William seemed in fine spirits as he spoke to veterans and members of the public during a surprise visit to Arromanches this afternoon

President Biden appeared emotional during the ceremony at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer

President Biden appeared emotional during the ceremony at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer

Among the world leaders present were (L-R) Poland's President Andrzej Duda, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US First Lady Jill Biden, US President Joe Biden, France's President Emmanuel Macron, French President's wife Brigitte Macron, Britain's Prince William, the Prince of Wales and Australia's Governor-General David Hurley and Australian Governor-General's wife Linda Hurley

Among the world leaders present were (L-R) Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US First Lady Jill Biden, US President Joe Biden, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, French President’s wife Brigitte Macron, Britain’s Prince William, the Prince of Wales and Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley and Australian Governor-General’s wife Linda Hurley

President Macron and his wife Brigitte and President Biden and his wife Jill arrive at the official commemoration event on Thursday

President Macron and his wife Brigitte and President Biden and his wife Jill arrive at the official commemoration event on Thursday

The Prince of Wales visited the D-Day museum in Arromanches, which lies above Gold Beach, one of the stretches of coast that was targeted during the Normandy landings

The Prince of Wales visited the D-Day museum in Arromanches, which lies above Gold Beach, one of the stretches of coast that was targeted during the Normandy landings

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings

US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Zelensky at the D-Day commemoration ceremony in France

US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Zelensky at the D-Day commemoration ceremony in France

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) as he arrives, sporting a poppy in remembrance of those who died during the fighting

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) as he arrives, sporting a poppy in remembrance of those who died during the fighting

William made the journey to Arromanches before travelling to an international commemoration at Omaha Beach in the afternoon

William made the journey to Arromanches before travelling to an international commemoration at Omaha Beach in the afternoon

The heir to the throne was gifted a pin by one veteran, while another told him they were sending their best wishes to his father

The heir to the throne was gifted a pin by one veteran, while another told him they were sending their best wishes to his father

Earlier in the day William gave a speech at Juno Beach praising the actions of Canadian troops who stormed the seafront on D-Day

Earlier in the day William gave a speech at Juno Beach praising the actions of Canadian troops who stormed the seafront on D-Day

The Prince of Wales (right) joined Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre) and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (left) in paying their respects to the sacrifices made by Canadians in the fight

The Prince of Wales (right) joined Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre) and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (left) in paying their respects to the sacrifices made by Canadians in the fight

William laid a wreath of poppies on Juno Beach to commemorate the lives lost 80 years ago today alongside Mr Trudeau and Mr Attal

William laid a wreath of poppies on Juno Beach to commemorate the lives lost 80 years ago today alongside Mr Trudeau and Mr Attal

France's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (L) walks with the French President's Head of Protocol Jose Pietroboni as he arrives

France’s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (L) walks with the French President’s Head of Protocol Jose Pietroboni as he arrives

In Arramanches William told a group of British veterans how ‘moving’ the commemorations have been as he made the surprise stop in the town.

Veteran Julian Heal, 52, from Bristol, said: ‘He [told us] ‘it’s all about the veterans’, and people are getting older, and there’s not many left on that, and he just said about how moving it was, especially the new monument on top of the hill.’ 

Mr Heal, who served in Northern Ireland, added: ‘As a veteran it’s really good because he gets us, we have a good laugh, real approachable guy.’ 

In an address at the Canadian ceremony earlier in the day he praised the ‘bravery and sacrifice of the Canadian troops, who gave so much 80 years ago’ as he delivered a speech at the ceremony on Juno Beach. 

He was joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, Canadian D-Day veterans and armed forces personnel in Courseulles-sur-Mer in France.

William said: ‘Far from home they stormed these very sand dunes behind me, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of British troops.

‘Standing here today in peaceful silence, it is almost impossible to grasp the courage it would have taken to run into the fury of battle that day.’

He continued: ‘All of you demonstrated heroism, and determination, that ensured fascism was conquered.

‘The commitment to service displayed by Canadian troops is a great testament to the strength of the people of Canada.

‘Canada and the UK continue to stand side by side as we did in 1944. Just as strong together, 80 years later.

‘Ensuring the memory of those who fought for freedom lives on is why we’ve come together again today – to say thank you.’

William, addressing veterans, added: ‘Thank you for our freedom, and thank you for your service.’

Ending his speech, he repeated his appreciation in French: ‘Merci pour notre liberte, et merci pour votre service.’

William cut a sombre figure earlier in the day before he made a speech paying tribute to Canadian troops who fought in the invasion of Nazi-occupied France

William cut a sombre figure earlier in the day before he made a speech paying tribute to Canadian troops who fought in the invasion of Nazi-occupied France

In his speech William said the actions of Canadian troops 'ensured fascism was conquered' during the Second World War

In his speech William said the actions of Canadian troops ‘ensured fascism was conquered’ during the Second World War

William waved at a photographer while at the ceremony, during which he also spoke to Canadian veterans about their experiences

William waved at a photographer while at the ceremony, during which he also spoke to Canadian veterans about their experiences

The Prince of Wales shakes the hand of a Canadian veteran at Juno Beach in northern France on the 80th anniversary of D-Day

The Prince of Wales shakes the hand of a Canadian veteran at Juno Beach in northern France on the 80th anniversary of D-Day

William was seen speaking with veterans as they shared their experiences with him following his speech at Juno Beach

William was seen speaking with veterans as they shared their experiences with him following his speech at Juno Beach

The father-of-three spent time after his speech listening to the veterans on the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings

The father-of-three spent time after his speech listening to the veterans on the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings

Prince William smiles as he walks alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal at Juno Beach

Prince William smiles as he walks alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal at Juno Beach

Prince William, Canada's Justin Trudeau and France's Gabriel Attal lay floral wreaths on Juno Beach in Normandy earlier today

Prince William, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and France’s Gabriel Attal lay floral wreaths on Juno Beach in Normandy earlier today

Prince Albert of Monaco, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prince William attending the D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach

Prince Albert of Monaco, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prince William attending the D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach 

After the Canadian ceremony on Juno Beach, which included the playing of the Last Post and the observance of a minute’s silence, alongside performances from Canadian musicians, William and the politicians briefly chatted to some of the veterans.

The prince asked one old servicemen ‘memories bringing it all back?’ and with the area now a picturesque stretch of sand with beach homes beyond the dunes, he added ‘there’s been a lot of changes.’

William moved on to talk to another Canadian veteran, and when the conversation turned toward the ages of the men who fought on D-Day the future king said ‘a lot of people were lying about their ages’.

Before the Prince of Wales and the prime ministers of France and Canada left floral tributes on Juno Beach, a lone piper played a lament in the dunes as the waves crashed on the sands.

On D-Day, 359 Canadian soldiers were killed, while more than 5,000 troops from the Commonwealth country died over the course of the 11-week Battle of Normandy.

William’s wreath had the handwritten note: ‘Remembering all Canadian acts of bravery and sacrifice 80 years ago.

‘Lest we forget. N’oublions jamais.’

While the Prince of Wales was at Juno Beach, his father and stepmother were attending an emotional ceremony at the British Normandy Memorial.

Charles led a crowd of 2,000 people, which included Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron in a poignant silent prayer to remember those no longer with us, while memories of those who were on the beaches 80 years ago were also read out.

Charles, along with President Macron, Mr Sunak and military leaders laid wreathes of poppies at the memorial as Elgar’s Nimrod was performed by a brass band in the background, with the national anthems of France and the United Kingdom also being played as the Red Arrows roared overhead. 

The monarch looked emotional as he listened to singer Johnny Flynn perform ‘Song with no Name’ in tribute to the fallen, while Camilla was seen wiping her eyes as actor Martin Freeman read a touching diary entry from one survivor who remarked ‘it’s because of the lads [who died] that I’m here today’.

Veteran Jack Mortimer wipes away a tear arriving at the international commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach today

Veteran Jack Mortimer wipes away a tear arriving at the international commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach today

There were tears among the crowd, including from veterans, during the emotional service at Ver-sur-Mer in northern France this morning

There were tears among the crowd, including from veterans, during the emotional service at Ver-sur-Mer in northern France this morning

King Charles shakes the hand of a veteran as they speak following the service at the British Normandy Memorial today

King Charles shakes the hand of a veteran as they speak following the service at the British Normandy Memorial today

Queen Camilla speaks with D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98 from Surrey, at the end of the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial

Queen Camilla speaks with D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98 from Surrey, at the end of the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial

King Charles III lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial during an emotional service to D-Day veterans

King Charles III lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial during an emotional service to D-Day veterans

The King looked emotional as he listened to singer Johnny Flynn perform Song with no Name in tribute to the fallen this morning

The King looked emotional as he listened to singer Johnny Flynn perform Song with no Name in tribute to the fallen this morning

His Majesty King Charles III gives a salute as he lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial this morning

His Majesty King Charles III gives a salute as he lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial this morning

The Red Arrows and a typhoon aircraft fly over the memorial service as the RAF pays tribute to the veterans of the Normandy landings

The Red Arrows and a typhoon aircraft fly over the memorial service as the RAF pays tribute to the veterans of the Normandy landings

King Charles gives a speech honouring those who took part in the D-Day landings at a memorial service in Ver-sur-Mer today

King Charles gives a speech honouring those who took part in the D-Day landings at a memorial service in Ver-sur-Mer today

The number of British veterans in attendance was only a few dozen, as the numbers of survivors dwindles with each year that passes – at the 75th anniversary five years ago 255 travelled to France, compared to the 50 who have made the journey this time around. 

Those veterans in attendance were presented with white roses by French schoolchildren while cadets waved flags, and received multiple standing ovations during the two-hour-long service, before shaking hands and exchanging words with His Majesty. 

In his speech, Charles said: ‘Eighty years ago on D-Day, the 6th of June 1944, our nation – and those which stood alongside it – faced what my grandfather, King George VI, described as the supreme test.

‘How fortunate we were, and the entire free world, that a generation of men and women in the United Kingdom and other allied nations did not flinch when the moment came to face that test.

‘On the beaches of Normandy, on the seas beyond and in the skies overhead, our armed forces carried out their duty with a humbling sense of resolve and determination – qualities so characteristic of that remarkable war-time generation.

‘Very many of them never came home, they lost their lives on the D-Day landing grounds or in the many battles that followed.

‘It is with the most profound sense of gratitude that we remember them and all those who served at that critical time.

‘We recall the lesson that comes to us again and again across the decades – free nations must stand together to oppose tyranny.’

Speaking in French as well as English, he also paid his respects to the people of France, who suffered under Nazi rule during the Second World War and who fought for freedom through La Résistance.

Veterans look on during the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial service in northern France this morning

Veterans look on during the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial service in northern France this morning

A veteran lays a wreath of poppies dedicated to those who died in the Second World War during a ceremony at the British Normandy Memorial

A veteran lays a wreath of poppies dedicated to those who died in the Second World War during a ceremony at the British Normandy Memorial

D-Day veteran Alex Penstone, 98, stands supported by Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the service in Ver-sur-Mer

D-Day veteran Alex Penstone, 98, stands supported by Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the service in Ver-sur-Mer

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion's commemorative event

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s commemorative event

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion's commemorative event

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s commemorative event

It comes as the number of surviving D-Day veterans continues to dwindle as the years go by, with fewer attending this year’s commemorative events than ever before.

At the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings the Royal British Legion (RBL) took 255 veterans back to Normandy on a chartered ship, while this year only 23 will make the trip with the charity.

Around 50 British D-Day veterans are expected to be at events in Normandy today, and there have been emotional scenes as those who are well enough to make the journey have gathered in northern France.

A total of 22,442 service personnel under British command died on D-day and during the Battle of Normandy in the summer of 1944.

Nigel Steel, senior curator at the Imperial War Museum, said it is important to ‘make the most’ of having D-Day veterans as their numbers dwindle.

He told MailOnline: ‘The presence of a veterans is special for us and I think we do need to make the most of that because we know that it’s only a matter of time [before they’re no longer there].

‘When the veterans are there it’s great because we can listen to them and we’re kind of enamored by the veterans as much as the event.

‘But without the veterans, as we are now doing with the First World War, we can still talk about it and remember it and appreciate the significance and remember the veterans as part of that historical memory.

‘They [veterans] are so fascinating to us because they were actually there and in their heads are the real memories and all we can do is talk to them and pick this up second hand.

‘I think that’s the great thing about talking to veterans is that you feel your as close to the events as you can ever possibly be.

‘You’ve kind of got a direct line back to those events because they were actually there and they were there witnessing and taking part in them.

‘So that’s why we need to make the most of it while they’re still here but whilst we’re talking to them we need to store up those memories so that we can then share them with the next generations who don’t have the privilege of meeting them in person.’

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