The United Kingdom’s King Charles has expressed “eternal admiration” to the Allied soldiers that reached France by sea and air to drive out Nazi forces, as world leaders and veterans celebrated the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

“Let us pray such sacrifice will never be made again,” Charles said during a ceremony in Normandy.

“We recall the lesson that comes to us again and again, across the decades: Free nations must stand together to oppose tyranny.”

D-Day – which marked a turning point against Nazi Germany during World War II – remains history’s largest amphibious invasion. Many of the surviving veterans of the attack are now more than 100 years old.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron presented a Legion d’Honneur award – France’s highest honour – to Christian Lamb, a 103-year-old member of the wartime British naval service who helped plan the landings, describing her as “a hero in the shadows”.

“You have set us an example, which we’ll not forget. France will never forget the British troops who landed on D-Day and all their brothers in arms,” he said.

At a ceremony in Colleville-sur-Mer, where row after row of white marble crosses – some with names, some unmarked – show the toll the invasion took on allied forces, Macron also awarded the Legion d’Honneur to US veterans, many in wheelchairs.

“You are back here today at home, if I may say,” Macron told American veterans in English, saying France would not forget their sacrifice.

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