Prince Harry and Prince William pay tribute to veterans to mark D-Day anniversary

By Zach Harper

Princes William and Harry have a lot in common, aside from being royal brothers – they also served their country, and have a mutual deep appreciation for honouring Britain's history. The two stepped out separately on Thursday (June 6) to do just that.

On June 6, 1944, allied troops landed on the beaches in Normandy. The event, later known as “D-Day,” saw a successful invasion of what was then Nazi-occupied France and started a battle that would lead to the end of World War II and the liberation of Europe.

Harry, who is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, marked the occasion by visiting a retirement home for veterans on Thursday – and he came dressed in uniform!

Forty-six of the veterans who spent time with Harry were in World War II. Photo: © Heathcliff O'Malley - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Duke of Sussex was greeted by the residents of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was opened by Charles II in 1681. They were all in their uniforms for the Founder’s Day Parade, and six of those who took part were involved in the Normandy invasions.

Harry made a speech after reviewing the Chelsea Pensioners, learned about what they do at the home, and then helped a veteran make a poppy.

“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 a chance to make new ones,” Harry said in his speech. “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.”

Harry served two tours in Afghanistan during his time in the British army. Photo: © Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Harry, who came armed with his biggest smile, also gave the vets a pretty huge compliment when he acknowledged their ability to be happy, which is probably due to what many of them have seen and gone through.

“You will always stand out in your scarlet coats and white gloves, but to me, whether I see you at Westminster Abbey, the Chelsea Flower Show, Twickenham Stadium, or the pub, I notice that you are always smiling,” he said. “I thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you all the health and happiness you so richly deserve.”

MORE: Prince Harry opens up about life on the frontline in Afghanistan

Harry served in the British monarchy for 10 years, eventually achieving the rank of Captain. He spent two tours in Afghanistan. Since leaving the military, Harry has continued to support other veterans and members of armed services worldwide through his Invictus Games.

On Thursday, Prince William also paid tribute to the sacrifices made on D-Day and the ensuing month-and-a-half-long battle.

Allied casualties during the D-Day operation number between 5,000 to 12,000. Photo: © Anthony Devlin - WPA Pool / Getty Images

The Duke of Cambridge stepped out to the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, England to visit more than 20 D-Day veterans. In an emotional moment, William read from a speech made by his great-grandfather, George VI, when he announced the Normandy invasions were taking place.

“Four years ago, our nation… stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs against the wall,” William read. “Now, once more, a supreme test has to be faced.”

Following the moving moment, William laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial and then spent time with veterans.

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