The Prince of Wales has spoken of the importance of preserving the memory of the more than 22,000 “remarkable individuals” commemorated at the British Normandy Memorial.
The Memorial, designed by British architect Liam O’Connor, records the names of the 22,442 servicemen and women under British command who fell on D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.
On the 77th anniversary of the landings, the memorial at Ver-sur-Mer was officially opened, while veterans unable to travel to Normandy because of Covid-19 travel restrictions could watch on from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Charles, patron of the Normandy Memorial Trust, said he had wished to travel to France and spoke of his pride at opening the “remarkable” memorial.
In a video message, he said: “I particularly wanted to address my first remarks directly to those whose presence today, either in person or online, really matters the most.
“I know just how much our incomparable veterans had hoped to be in Normandy today to see their Memorial for themselves.
“Despite having to watch via satellite link, this in no way obscures the enormous regard, and admiration, in which we hold our veterans or diminishes our debt of gratitude to the more than 22,000 men and women whose names are now permanently inscribed in stone in this place of honour above Gold Beach.”
The memorial, which cost almost £30 million and was funded by the British Government and private benefactors, stands on a hillside overlooking Gold Beach, one of three where British forces landed on the morning of June 6, 1944 to begin the liberation of Western Europe.
The memorial features the D-Day Sculpture by British sculptor David Williams-Ellis, the D-Day Wall featuring the names of those who fell on D-Day itself and, on 160 stone columns, the names of those others who lost their lives between D-Day and the Liberation of Paris at the end of August 1944.
The site also includes a French memorial dedicated to the memory of French civilians who died during the period.
Charles added: “As I said when I first became aware of the plans for this long overdue British memorial, it has for many years been a concern to me that the memory of these remarkable individuals should be preserved for future generations as an example of personal courage and sacrifice, for the benefit of the wider national and, indeed, international community.
“May God bless our veterans, the families and all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice as a result of the operations around D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy.”