The D-Day anniversary and what Donald Trump might learn from his visit to the UK

Credit: PA

I’m sitting on a temporary stand on Southsea Common in Portsmouth and unfolding in front of me on a giant stage is an impressive and moving tribute to those who fought and served in the Second World War.

We are here to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings but the story being told on the main stage is of the herculean and international effort to defeat the sinister forces of Nazism from 1939 onwards.

The Queen is here. So too the President of the United States. And a host of world leaders from Canada to France. And the German Chancellor is here.

Angela Merkel was invited to mark the reconciliation which has existed between these countries and Germany for the last seven decades.

Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump listened to readings and emotional letters from those who said goodbye to loved ones. Credit: PA

And I’m wondering what Donald Trump makes of it all.

A president who campaigned on a slogan of ‘America First’.

A president who has sometimes questioned the role of the international bodies set up in the wake of the horrors of the 1940s.

Because everyone here appears to be moved by what they are watching.

By the readings from those who were sailing to their deaths, by the letters from those who were saying goodbye to loved ones, by stories of the resistance fighters in France about to face execution.

The US president sits alongside world leaders and the Queen for the commemoration event. Credit: PA

And Mr Trump, sitting next to The Queen, is watching how leaders and military men from the UK and US and 12 other nations came together in an unprecedented way to launch Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944.

130,000 British, Canadian and Commonwealth troops contributed to the invasion force on the beaches of occupied France alongside the United States and the Free French.

Another 8,000 ships and smaller vessels supported them with 11,000 aircraft overhead.

It was the largest amphibious assault ever launched.

They all came together to contribute to the success of the Normandy Landings and, ultimately, to the end of the Second World War.

Mr Trump speaks onstage to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Credit: AP

It follows a week in which the UK has attempted to gently nudge Donald Trump back onto America’s more traditional course: one where his nation plays its full part in world politics.

A week in which the Queen told Mr Trump that the anniversary of D-Day should remind us of what our countries have achieved together – and she pointed out the ‘assembly of international institutions’ that the UK and US set up with other allies to ensure that the horrors of conflict would never happen again.

It was also week in which the President got a 45 minute plea from Prince Charles to reflect on the science of – and threat from - climate change.

This isn’t a president who is used to getting a lecture on a subject with which he disagrees – but there are few other people in the world Mr Trump would take it from.

The emotional ceremony left some veterans in tears. Credit: AP

And the week has ended with a moving tribute to those who fought on the beaches of Normandy.

Whatever the political controversies Donald Trump’s visit has sparked here, you can’t help but step back and assess the longer-term value of State Visits such as these – rather than the more usual working visits.

It would be wrong to conclude that Donald Trump will be a changed politician after this, but you do wonder if he might reflect, just a little longer, on the impact his decisions will have in other parts of the world.

The events which happened here in Portsmouth 75 years ago – as thousands of men set sail for occupied France - have given us all a lot to think about this week.