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

Prince Harry met the Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea's annual Founder Day's parade. Credit: 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.

View this post on Instagram

Today The Duke of Sussex visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea for the Founder’s Day Parade, an annual event celebrating the founding of the veterans hospital in 1681 by King Charles II. The Founder’s Day Parade is a day to celebrate ‘The Chelsea Pensioners’, the name for those veterans who live there, and an important reminder of the great debt we owe all whom have served their nation. More than 300 years on from its founding, @royalhospitalchelsea continues to provide exceptional care to soldiers in retirement. Today’s visit also coincides with the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It was especially poignant for The Duke, who served in the British Army for ten years, to visit with and honour six veterans of the Normandy Landing living at the hospital. In his speech today His Royal Highness shared these words with the Chelsea Pensioners: Don’t ever underestimate the joy that you bring to everyone you meet. You represent something really quite special, you are special, and society will always recognise that. That is an important part of your legacy....It’s a community that focuses on supporting each other with kindness, respect and compassion, as well as reaching out to serve the wider community....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. Over 300 British Army Veterans live @royalhospitalchelsea - veterans who fought in the Second World War, and other conflicts including Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Northern Ireland, South Atlantic and the first Gulf War. Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and other members of The Royal Family have joined events in the UK and France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are proud to support serving and former members of the Armed Forces. Positive communities and the @royalhospitalchelsea model of care, is critical to help veterans both young and old to maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. Thank you for your service, and for the sacrifices you and your families have made. #DDay75

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