The Royal Family celebrated the Royal Air Force’s special milestone today with a service at Westminster Abbey, followed by a flypast over Buckingham Palace. This year marks the 100th birthday of the RAF, making it the oldest independent airforce in the world.
It was formed towards the end of the First World War on the 1st of April 1918, and was, at one time, the largest air force in the world. The RAF has played a significant role in British military history.
In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War, fighting in the Battle of Britain, its most famous campaign.
The Queen has always had a close relationship with her armed forces. Her father, King George VI, was one of the founder members of the Royal Air Force.
The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of York have all served in the Royal Air Force.
More than 2,200 people attended today’s service, including dignitaries such as Prime Minister Theresa May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
The service is being followed by a Buckingham Palace royal salute and flypast and a celebratory event at Horseguards Parade.
While The Duchess of Cambridge is still technically on maternity leave, it is understood she felt the celebrations were important to attend if she could. She became an Honorary Air Commandant back in 2015, and was gifted the Dacre brooch – the highest award any female air cadet can achieve.
Ahead of today, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said, “It is a tremendous coming together of a whole range of RAF capabilities, and a celebration of the quality of our people, and it is that connection between the Royal Air Force and Her Majesty the Queen. I think there is a very close personal connection as well as clearly that important connection between the Sovereign and her armed forces.”