updated 06/06/2014 AT 1:30 PM ET
•originally published 06/06/2014 AT 3:15 PM ET
William, 31, and Kate, 32, were at Arromanches, Normandy, meeting World War II veterans who had returned to northern France to remember the Allied invasion.
Speaking at the service of commemoration at Gold Beach, the prince said it was a “great honor” to be there. “Catherine and I were privileged to meet the veterans present that great and terrible day,” he added.
Poignantly, he said that the anniversary was also about “my generation and younger whose connection to the events are largely through the history books.”
William, who wore his medals given to him by Queen Elizabeth for his service to her in her Gold and Diamond Jubilee years, added, “It is vital that this sacrifice, and the reasons for this sacrifice, are never forgotten by our generation and generations to come.”
The day had begun with Queen Elizabeth and President Obama and other world leaders gathering along the coast to pay their tribute to the service and sacrifice of so many.
The battles of June 1944 were led to the liberation of France from Nazi occupation and the end of WWII the following year. More than 150,000 servicemen in 2,300 craft landed on five beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword – beginning with paratroopers who descended from the skies just after midnight.