Buckingham Palace has confirmed neither the Queen nor any members of the British royal family will attend the 65th anniversary commemoration of D-Day in France next week.
Reports in the British media had claimed the sovereign – who is head of the Armed Forces – is privately furious over the lack of a formal invitation, but the Palace says there is no ill feeling. "We would like to reiterate that we have never expressed any sense of anger or frustration at all, and are content with all the arrangements that are planned."
The 83-year-old monarch is the only living head of state to have served in WWII, having worked as a driver and mechanic volunteer in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. She will be unable to attend because she was not officially invited to the June 6 event, explains a Palace spokesman.
On Thursday French officials insisted the Queen was welcome at what they say is "primarily a Franco-American ceremony", adding that it was down to the British government to decide who would represent the nation.
Gordon Brown is due to join France's President Sarkozy and US president Barack Obama at the memorial ceremony in Normandy, which marks the 65 years which have passed since the landing of Allied troops which helped defeat Hitler's Germany.
For the 800 British veterans scheduled to attend the commemoration events, the news that the Queen will not be present to take the salute at their final march past, as she did at the 60th anniversary of the invasions in 2004, comes as a bitter blow. "I'm really upset by it," said 83-year-old formal royal engineer Brian Swift. "It's a great shame. She likes being with her veterans and we like having her there."