World leaders representing the allied nations who took part in the D-Day landings took part in commemorations in Portsmouth to mark the 75th anniversary of the second world war campaign.
As well as the Queen, French President Emmanuel Macron, the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and US President Donald Trump attended the event.
Other guests included Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, prime minister Charles Michel from Belgium, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, Andrej Babis and president Prokopis Pavlopoulos from Greece. Chancellor Angela Merkel represented Germany.
Standing in the royal box at the ceremony, the Queen said: “When I attended the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, some thought it might be the last such event.
“But the wartime generation – my generation – is resilient, and I am delighted to be with you in Portsmouth today.
“Seventy-five years ago, hundreds of thousands of young soldiers, sailors and airmen left these shores in the cause of freedom.”
Her Majesty continued: “In a broadcast to the nation at that time, my Father, King George VI, said: ‘…what is demanded from us all is something more than courage and endurance; we need a revival of spirit, a new unconquerable resolve…’
“That is exactly what those brave men brought to the battle, as the fate of the world depended on their success.
“Many of them would never return, and the heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten.
“It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country – indeed the whole free world – that I say to you all, thank you.”
Sergeant John Jenkins MBE, 99, from Portsmouth, was in the Pioneer Corps on D-Day and landed on Gold Beach on June 8.
Speaking at the service, he said: “I was 23 years old when I landed on Gold Beach.
“I was terrified, I think everyone was. I look back on it as a big part of my life. I was just a small part in a very big machine.”
He said he was “honoured” to be at the service along with other D-Day veterans.
“You never forget your comrades because we were all in it together,” he said.
“It is right that the courage and sacrifice of so many is being honoured 75 years on. We must never forget.”
Prime Minister Theresa May read a letter from Captain Norman Skinner of the Royal Army Service Corps, to his wife Gladys on June 3, 1944.
The letter was in his pocket when he landed on Normandy’s Sword Beach on D-Day but he was killed the following day, leaving his wife and two young daughters.
Reading the letter May said: “My darling this is a very difficult letter for me to write. As you know something may happen at any moment and I cannot tell when you will receive this.
“I had hoped to be able to see you during last weekend but it was impossible to get away and all the things I intended to say must be written. I’m sure that anyone with imagination must dislike the thought of what’s coming, but my fears will be more of being afraid than of what can happen to me.
“You and I have had some lovely years which now seemed to have passed at lightning speed. My thoughts at this moment, in this lovely Saturday afternoon, are with you all now.”
Trump read a prayer to the D-Day 75th anniversary commemoration in Portsmouth written by his predecessor Franklin D Roosevelt.
He read the piece which was originally delivered to the US nation by President Roosevelt on the evening of D-Day June 6, 1944.
President Trump read: “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavour, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilisation, and to set free a suffering humanity.”
Actor and author Celia Imrie narrated the event and began by introducing a segment on the fall of Europe and the start of the Second World War when Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.
She said the scene in Southsea ahead of D-Day, 75 years ago, was very different from today: “This was no green and open land but a sea of uniform and an ocean of men.
“Seventy-five years later we are honoured to be joined by over 300 veterans of Operation Overlord.
“They bravely risked their lives for our today and to them we show our profound appreciation.”
An extract from Second World War leader Winston Churchill’s famous “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech was also played: “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; We shall never surrender.”
The Queen, Trump and Prince Charles met with six veterans following the ceremony.
In a small reception also attended by the First Lady, Trump told the veterans of his honour to meet them.
Thomas Cuthbert, 93, said of the president: “He came across very well, he surprised me, he seemed one of the boys.”
The 16 countries represented at the event have signed a proclamation promising to work together to ensure the “unimaginable horror” of the Second World War is not repeated. The document will now be donated to the Imperial War Museum.