Prince Harry ‘honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy landing veterans’

The Duke of Sussex during Founder’s Day celebrations at the Royal Hospital Chelsea Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

The Duke of Sussex has praised Chelsea Pensioners who were part of the D-Day landings, saying he was “honoured” to be in their presence.

Harry met six former servicemen who were involved in Operation Overlord 75 years ago to liberate Europe from the Nazis, as he joined the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s annual Founder’s Day celebrations.

The Duke of Sussex was in high spirits as he met the veterans on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Credit: PA

In a lighter moment, the duke joked about the success of Colin Thackery, who won Britain’s Got Talent last week, saying that Charles II, the hospital’s founder, would be amused to know he was “Royal Variety standard”.

With the Pensioners lined up on the parade ground and around 1,900 of their families, friends and regimental representatives in stands nearby, Harry gave an address.

“On this 75th anniversary of D-Day, I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say we are honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy landing veterans,” he said.

Founder’s Day celebrations at the Royal Hospital Chelsea Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

“To all who are on parade today, I can only say that you are a constant reminder of the great debt we owe those who have served this nation.

“You embody the fitting home that awaits them in the peace and tranquillity of the Royal Hospital, should they want it.”

The duke, dressed in his peaked cap, Blues and Royals frock coat and carrying a sword, also wore a large sprig of oak leaves on his shoulder – a symbolic reminder that King Charles escaped from parliamentary forces by hiding in an oak tree.

The Duke of Sussex speaking to Chelsea Pensioners and their families during Founder’s Day celebrations Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Harry, a former Army officer, added: “Both your founder, King Charles II, and Sir Christopher Wren himself would be delighted to know that the institution which opened its doors to the first Pensioners over 325 years ago, continues to fulfil its original purpose of giving exceptional care to soldiers in retirement.

“They’d also be amused to hear about the late-night cricket in the hallways! Much less the serenading by Colin, who I am told is Royal Variety standard, but let’s assume they haven’t seen your synchronised buggy drill quite yet!”

A post on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Instagram page paid tribute to the veterans to whom we all owe "a great debt".

Adding: "Thank you for your service, and for the sacrifices you and your families have made.