Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 16:17 UK

Charles invited to D-Day events

Normandy veterans
Some veterans will also be attending the anniversary events

Prince Charles is to attend D-Day commemorations in Normandy at the weekend, Clarence House has confirmed.

The prince was invited by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The White House had stepped into the row about why the Queen was not attending, after Buckingham Palace insisted she had not been invited.

It is understood the prince will attend at least one main event alongside US President Barack Obama, Mr Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

They will gather at the Normandy American Cemetery, by Omaha Beach - code name for one of the main landing points of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France during WWII.

Some British veterans, who took part in the 1944 Normandy landings that helped to defeat Hitler's Germany, will also play a part in a number of events planned for 6 June.

Guest list

It is understood the Prince of Wales spoke to the Queen about the issue, and they decided it was appropriate he should attend.

White House press secretary on trying to get the Queen an invitation

The official invitation was received on Tuesday via the French ambassador in London.

It is not yet known whether Charles will be accompanied in France by the Duchess of Cornwall.

Amid controversy over the handling of the guest list, the British and French governments had been discussing the possibility that a Royal Family member would attend the commemorations.

The French government wanted to counter the perceptions that President Sarkozy intended the focus to be on him and President Obama, and that Downing Street had not pushed for the Queen to be invited, said the BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Robbins.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles has discussed the issue with the Queen

He said Mr Obama was only invited to the commemorations because plans for him to visit the beaches as part of his European tour in April were squeezed out of an overcrowded programme.

Meanwhile prime minister Gordon Brown was invited to represent the UK at the event.

The changing plans caused "big problems", said our correspondent, with Downing Street having to defend the prime minister's role.

His spokesman said: "We have been consulting the Palace at every stage and they have been content with arrangements."

Clarence House said discussions had been going on between the French and the British before the US became involved.

They said the fact that the White House had stepped in to the row shortly before Prince Charles received his invitation, was "coincidence", said the BBC's June Kelly.

Hundreds of British veterans will hold their main memorial event at the Arromanches landing beaches, where thousands of troops came ashore on 6 June 1944, and during the following days.

There will also be a Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral.

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales all attended commemoration events in France for the 60th anniversary of the invasion, which was a strategic turning point in the war.



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