LONDON (AFP) - Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip will make a state visit to France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Monday.
The royal couple have slashed their overseas travel and the three-day trip in June will be the first time that the 87-year-old monarch has left Britain since visiting Australia in October 2011.
"The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, will make a state visit to France from June 5-7," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
The Queen and her 92-year-old husband will attend events on the northern French coast to commemorate the Jun 6, 1944 D-Day landings.
In one of the key turning points of World War II, more than 150,000 troops from the United States (US), Britain and Canada stormed the Normandy beaches to begin the Allied liberation of Europe from Nazi rule.
Parades, parachute drops, military camps and open-air concerts are some of the events planned to remember the invasion.
The royal couple have been invited by French President Francois Hollande, who was in Britain on Friday for a one-day summit with Prime Minister David Cameron.
They will be received by Hollande at the Elysee Palace, his official residence and attend official events in Paris on Jun 6 and 7.
Prince Philip is the only surviving British royal who saw active service in World War II. A naval officer, he was in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender.
The Normandy trip should help make amends for an embarrassing protocol mishap surrounding the 65th anniversary of the landings.
US President Barack Obama was invited to attend, but Queen Elizabeth - the head of state of Britain and Canada - was not.
Some British newspapers called it a French snub, but Paris said it had been down to the government in London to decide who attended, leaving then-prime minister Gordon Brown red-faced.
Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, eventually joined the British party alongside Brown.
Queen Elizabeth did, however, attend the 60th anniversary events in 2004.
She addressed veterans at Arromanches, facing Gold Beach, one of five invaded on Jun 6, 1944.
That came a few months after her fourth state visit to France. She travelled on the Eurostar under-sea train to mark 100 years of the Entente Cordiale.
The French-speaking queen's previous state visits were in 1957, 1972 and 1992.
Charles, 65, and his eldest son Prince William, 31, are expected to take on the more gruelling overseas royal visits with their wives, as the queen and Prince Philip inevitably slow down with age.
The monarch's last state visit was to Ireland in 2011, a groundbreaking trip which helped to heal deep-rooted unease and put Anglo-Irish relations on a new footing.
Queen Elizabeth is the head of the Commonwealth but junior royals made visits to Commonwealth countries on her behalf during her diamond jubilee year in 2012.
In November last year, Charles represented her for the first time at the Commonwealth's biennial summit, held in Sri Lanka.