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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

A Nation prepares to say farewell 

AS the population mourns the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, it is clear the important part the monarch played in the lives of many people, with RAF personnel past and present among the hundreds of thousands willing to queue for prolonged periods to pay their respects at Westminster Hall.

The Royal Air Force holds a longstanding link with the Royal Family, the Queen speaking personally about its importance during the centenary celebrations of the service back in 2018.

She recalled the Battle of Britain, with Buckingham Palace among many locations bombed in 1940, and despite spending most of the war at Windsor Castle, her father and mother felt it important they stayed in the capital to show solidarity with the people of London.

Her interest in the RAF appeared to stem from her father, King George VI, the first member of the Royal Family to qualify as a RAF pilot, and in 1990, No. 63 Squadron was designated as the Queen’s Colour Squadron, the RAF’s dedicated ceremonial unit that represents the service at state and ceremonial occasions.

They were seen during the return of the Queen to London – ceremonial duties at Edinburgh Airport saw pallbearers from the RAF Regiment carry Her Majesty onto a C-17 Globemaster which flew her coffin, accompanied by her daughter, Princess Anne, to RAF Northolt.

The crew of the plane were from 99 Squadron based at Brize Norton, with the journey from Scotland to England the last when the term ‘Kittyhawk’ will be used, the call-sign adopted whenever a military aircraft had the Queen on board.

C17 Carrying the Queen

(C17 Carrying the Queen)

Praise for the RAF came on social media for the dedicated and professional way they conducted the ceremony, with particular note taken of the choice of aircraft, registration ZZ177, part of which reads LIZ upside down.

Among those at Northolt to receive the flight was Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, who described the Queen as: “The embodiment of a life dedicated to the service of the nation and the Commonwealth.”

In return for her service, the RAF were always more than happy to play a key role during important moments in her life, most recently in June this year at the height of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations: more than 70 aircraft took part in a memorable flypast over the Mall on the Queen’s Birthday Parade, with Her Majesty watching on from the Buckingham Palace balcony.

The event, which included the Battle of Britain Flight, – two Spitfires, two Hurricanes and a Lancaster – was also marked by 15 Typhoons from Coningsby and Lossiemouth flying over in a special ‘70’ formation.

The RAF will play a more sombre role during the Queen’s funeral, with around 700 of its personnel part of the 6,000-strong military contingent taking part in the ceremony. Work has been on-going over the past week with members of the RAF rehearsing their roles in central London and at RAF Halton, where personnel from the RAF Regiment, RAF College Cranwell, RAF Marham, the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and 603 City of Edinburgh Squadron took part in drills.

As the nation bids a final farewell on Monday, the RAF will join their military colleagues and the general public to say: ‘Thank you for your service, Ma’am’.

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1 comment

  • I’m proud to have served under Her Majesty Queen Eliabeth II. Thank for you service Ma’am, God be with you.

    Dave Perrons

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