D-Day event in park scrapped

IN an embarrassing change of mind, the Government yesterday scrapped the much-derided Hyde Park 'event' celebrating D-Day.

The U-turn, slipped out in the form of a release from the National Heritage department, was timed for one of the busiest news days of the year, with attention focusing on the by-election aftermath, the Labour leadership contest, European elections and the Queen's Birthday honours.

Originally scheduled for 3 July, the jamboree was to have starred Dame Vera Lynn - 'the forces' sweetheart' - and to have included a fancy-dress parade and competitions recreating the atmosphere of 50 years ago.

When details emerged two months ago, veterans' organisations accused the Government of trivialising history. After Dame Vera said she was also worried it was too frivolous, the Prime Minister ordered a re-think.

Discussions between the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Peter Brooke, the Normandy Veterans' Association and the Royal British Legion, saw the plans toned down and the event postponed until 14 August. Commercial sponsorship had also proved difficult to attract. Now it has been cancelled completely.

Mr Brooke attributed the decision to the success of last weekend's ceremonies in Portsmouth and Normandy. 'The Government's objective was to raise awareness of what was achieved during the Normandy Campaign and pay a fitting tribute to campaign veterans. This has been achieved,' he said.

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