The Palace has revealed in detail Prince Albert’s recent trip to Normandy for the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. The Prince undertook the emotional journey accompanied by members of his family, including his father-in-law Michael Wittstock and cousin Chris Le Vine, as well as some unnamed American friends.
On Wednesday 5th June the Prince visited the Grand Bunker Museum in Ouistreham, the centrepiece of defence and the famous ‘Atlantic Wall’ which mobilised two million men from 1941 to 1944.
In the early evening, Prince Albert joined the Caen Memorial, a museum dedicated to the history of the 20th century and two world conflicts, where he and his delegation were able to visit an exhibition by the famous American painter illustrator Norman Rockwell entitled ‘Rockwell, Roosevelt and The Four Freedoms’.
To close the day, a dinner was held in the Prince’s honour by Joel Bruneau, Mayor of Caen, at the City Hall which adjoins the Men’s Abbey, founded by William the Conqueror.
On Thursday 6th June, Prince Albert went to ‘La Fiere’ in Sainte-Mère-Eglise, where retired colonel Keith Nightingale and the Friends of American Veterans recounted the bitter battle between paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and the German forces 75 years ago.
Then, Prince Albert visited the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Eglise and attended memorials dedicated to the airborne troops of Operation Overlord in the company of General Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, and General Mingus, Commander 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
A religious service was also organised in the church of Sainte-Mère-Eglise in the presence of American military and generals, the Chaplain and choir. Jean Quétier, the mayor of this small town which became famous in the United States, later presented the Sovereign Prince with the city’s medal and an honorary membership diploma of the Association of Friends of American Veterans, presided by Maurice Renaud.
On Friday 7th June, the Prince and his delegation joined the city of Saint-Lô and the Memorial Hospital France / United States, an institution built in part by fundraisers from America. There he witnessed the unveiling of a plaque honouring Franco-American friendship and the laying of wreaths in honour of American veterans who came with their families.
The American, Monegasque and French national anthems sounded before US Air Force planes flew over the hospital.
Martyr city of the second world war, up to 90% of Saint-Lô was destroyed. In the 18th century Saint-Lô became a stronghold of the House of Grimaldi thanks to the marriage between Jacques IV and Louise-Hippolyte.
In his speech, Prince Albert said that we should no longer speak of Saint-Lô as Samuel Beckett once called it, the “capital of ruins”, but as “a capital of reconstruction and even of innovation”.