Factbox-D-Day: What to expect from 80th anniversary in Normandy

By Thomson Reuters May 31, 2024 | 5:33 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – Veterans and world leaders will meet in Normandy, northwestern France, on June 6 to mark the 80th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings, when more than 150,000 Allied soldiers invaded France to drive out the forces of Nazi Germany.

Eighty years later, Normandy’s beaches and fields still bear the scars of the fighting that erupted on D-Day, history’s largest amphibious invasion.

Here is what you need to know about the event:


– With war raging on Europe’s borders, this anniverary’s D-Day ceremony will carry special resonance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will be among the guests. Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, touching off Europe’s biggest armed conflict since World War Two, was not invited.

– The numbers of British, American, Canadian and French veterans still alive, most of them aged 100 or more, are dwindling. This could be one of the last major ceremonies on Normandy’s windswept beaches and manicured war memorials honouring those veterans in their presence.


– Around 4,500 guests are expected, including about 200 veterans, mostly from the U.S., Britain, Canada and France. Among them will be 101-year old U.S. Army veteran Jake Larson.

– U.S. President Joe Biden will be there while on a June 5-9 state visit to France. He is expected to give a speech about the heroism of Allied forces and the continuing threats to democracy.

– Not Russia. President Vladimir Putin was never on the guest list due to the invasion of Ukraine. But France initially invited Russia’s ambassador in recognition of the country’s World War Two sacrifices, before rescinding the invitation.

– Zelenskiy will be among the guests, as will German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, and Britain’s King Charles, Queen Camilla and Prince William.


– For Macron, there will be three days of visits and speeches, from June 5-7. On the 5th, he will be in Brittany and Normandy, with visits that include the town of Saint-Lô, which was destroyed by Allied bombardments.

– On June 5 British army paratroopers will recreate a drop into the fields of Normandy, watched by three veterans.

– The main focus will be June 6. Ceremonies will kick off at around 0830 GMT at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, in the presence of King Charles, followed by a 0900 GMT Canadian ceremony with many of the same guests.

At around 1000 GMT, Biden will lead a U.S. ceremony in the presence of D-Day veterans. And at 1300 GMT, Macron will preside over an international ceremony at Omaha Beach, where U.S. forces suffered their greatest casualties in the assault against heavily fortified German defences.

At around 1600 GMT, world leaders are expected to gather in Caen for diplomatic talks.

– On June 7, Biden will deliver remarks at Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, about the importance of defending freedom and democracy.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Ingrid Melander, John Irish and Michael Holden; writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Mark Heinrich)