Charles defuses 'snub' row to join D-Day commemorations

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The Independent Online

Prince Charles will attend D-Day memorial events in Normandy on Saturday and may be joined by President Nicolas Sarkozy in paying tribute to British as well as American veterans.

The announcement yesterday that the Prince of Wales would attend the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion of France, puts an end to days of shilly-shallying by the British Government and shrill media allegations of a supposed French "snub" to the Queen.

The heir to the throne will go to a memorial ceremony at the American military cemetery above Omaha Beach on Saturday morning, which will also be attended by President Barack Obama, President Sarkozy and scores of American D-Day veterans. Prince Charles is then expected to go on to at least one of two memorial events organised for British veterans in Bayeux and Arromanches. Officials in Normandy hinted yesterday that he may be joined at one of these British events by President Sarkozy. Such a visit would answer allegations that France has forgotten the contribution of British and Canadian troops, who stormed three of the five D-Day beaches on 6 June 1944.

Gordon Brown, will also attend the Omaha Beach ceremony, but it is not yet clear if he will go on to the British commemorations.

The confusion arose after the Government, in accordance with long British tradition, decided not to have a special event to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Large, international memorial events were organised for the 50th and 60th anniversaries and are planned for the 70th.

A few weeks ago President Obama announced that he would go to the American memorial event at Omaha Beach, which had previously also been low-key. President Sarkozy said that he would also go along. So did Gordon Brown.

This produced allegations that the Queen had been "snubbed" because she had not been invited to what a French spokesman called "mainly a Franco-American event". This was a reference to the ceremony this weekend at Omaha Beach, not to D-Day itself. Taken out of context, the remark provoked fury in the British media.

More than 800 British veterans, in their 90s or late 80s, are expected to travel to Normandy where they will be given memorial ribbons by the French government.