Prince William Echoes Great-Grandfather’s Words as He Commemorates the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

Simon Perry

Prince William made a solemn tribute to the men and women who fought in the D-Day landings 75 years ago on Thursday.

On the morning of the milestone anniversary, the royal joined more than 20 veterans of the historic battle at a special commemorative service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England.

There, he made a short speech, echoing the words of his great-grandfather, King George VI, who had addressed the nation as the D-Day mission got under way.

Reading the same words Queen Elizabeth‘s father said in 1944, the royal said: “Four years ago, our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. Now, once more, a supreme test has to be faced.”

RELATED: Prince Harry Steps Out in Uniform to Visit Veterans’ Retirement Home on D-Day

Prince William | Anthony Devlin - WPA Pool /Getty

“This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nationwide, perchance a worldwide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.”

Following the service, William, 36, laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial, before spending some time chatting to the D-Day veterans who’d been invited by The Royal British Legion charity.

Prince William | Anthony Devlin - WPA Pool /Getty

Back in London, his brother Prince Harry also paid his respects to D-Day veterans with a visit to the Royal Hospital Chelsea during their annual Founder’s Day Parade. Six veterans from the Normandy Landings took part.

Upon his arrival, Harry met with residents and learned more about the home’s programs and activities. The Duke of Sussex, who welcomed son Archie Harrison with Meghan Markle last month, then reviewed the Chelsea Pensioners, who stood in four companies in the Royal Hospital’s central courtyard for inspection. He also made a speech.

Prince Harry | Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Prince Harry | John Phillips/Getty Images

“Not only is today a prominent historical occasion, it is also a special day in the Royal Hospital calendar — bringing together families, old friends and the chance to make new ones,” Harry said in a speech.

He continued, “Now I stand here before you to not only acknowledge the incredible contribution you have made to this nation but to acknowledge that you, my friends, are also seriously good fun to be around.”

Anthony Devlin - WPA Pool /Getty

Prince Charles also paid tribute in an interview with the BBC for the D-Day anniversary.

“I always think of people all around this country whose relations took part in D-Day and will be thinking so much about their grandfathers, fathers or great-grandfathers,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to know so many of these veterans over my lifetime.”

When asked whether this 75th anniversary would be particularly poignant, he added: “It’s probably the last chance to pay everlasting respect to these remarkable people who wanted above all to do their duty.”