Monday, June 1

Wot No Queen?

This week the French Government will do what they do best - insult the British.
Monty addresses D-Day troops, June 1944
''D-Day'' is regarded by many as one of the most important military operations of all time. The Normandy beaches are famous for the part they played on 6th June 1944, when despite heavy losses, American, British, and Canadian troops broke through Hitler's Atlantic Wall defenses and began the long-awaited invasion of occupied western Europe, leading to the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany.
The Normandy Landings were the first operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Neptune The landings commenced on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 British Double Summer Time (H-Hour). The D- Day assault was conducted in two phases: an air assault landing of American, British and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight, and landings of Allied infantry and armored divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30. The land forces were commanded by General (later Field Marshal) Montgomery, arguably one of most brilliant military commanders of the 20 th centuary.

The number of personal involved was enormous. The operation was the largest single-day amphibious invasion ever, with 160,000 troops landing the morning of June 6, 1944. There were 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The eviction of the Nazi's from France was a huge operation by mostly British, US and Canadian troops.

Last week sections of the UK media picked up on the the French Government's amazing snub to the Queen by not inviting Her Majesty to the official 65th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day landings on 6th June is an insult to the British and Commonwealth Veterans who will proudly salute their fallen comrades as well as an insult to the memory of 17,566 British and 5,316 Canadian troops who died. in the battles for the liberation of France.

Rather than paying due deference to the surviving veterans of the forces that liberated France. President Sarkozy is making much political capital of the hugely popular US President Obama's attendance, yet French officials have been dismissive of suggestions the the Queen as head of State of the UK and Canada should also be included in the events. Massive media attention is to be given to the French and US Presidents jointly attending the key events. The French snub is particularly disrespectful when one considers that Queen Elizabeth is the only present Head of any State in the world to have served in military uniform during the Second World War and indeed personal met many of the troops prior to the invasion in the summer of 1944.

Britain will not be without representation at the official ceremonies in Normandy next week, the UK Prime Minister, the Junior Defence minister and other British politicians having at the last minute requested invitations from the French when they realized that they would lose out on the publicity opportunities when they were informed that Barak Obama and consequently most of the world's press corps will be attending; every one wants to be seen to be best friends with the most popular politician on Earth. One could be forgiven for thinking that the politicians are more concerned with their image rather than remembrance.

As arrangements stand though there are no plans by the French organizers for Gordon Brown to visit any of the three beaches that were stormed by British and Canadian troops, nor will the Prime Minister attend the final march of the Normandy Veterans Association prior to their disbandment. Shame on him and shame on the French government.

So there we have it, 65 years after the start of the liberation of Western Europe, at a huge cost in human lives, the most long standing and respected Head of State in the western world with direct personal connections with the events that are to be commemorated in Normandy is to be shamefully excluded. This is clearly because it is feared that Her Majesty's presence would upstage the overtly image conscious, self focused French and US Presidents. In that assumption the French Government is correct.

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