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The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force

A clutch of royals, led by Queen Elizabeth II and joined by Harry and Meghan, kicked off celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force. The day began with a service at Westminster Abbey: an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the RAF’s achievements of the past 100 years, and to look forward to the next 100.

Meghan and Harry arrived alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

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Another shot of them arriving:

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The Queen’s arrival:

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The Royal Air Force, which is described as the world’s first independent air force, was founded on April 1, 1918, as an armed force independent of the British Army and the Royal Navy. It played a crucial role in defending the skies of Britain during World War 2, when the queen was still a teen and her father, King George VI, was on the throne. According to Buckingham Palace, a century later, the Royal Air Force is engaged in 13 missions across 26 countries and is heavily committed to operations both at home and abroad.

Royal Air Force Officers, 1918

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Not many people know that Westminster Abbey has a chapel dedicated to members of the Royal Air Force. It’s located at the eastern end of The Lady Chapel!

From Westminster-abbey.org:

“At the eastern end of the magnificent Lady Chapel built by King Henry VII is a chapel dedicated to the men of the Royal Air Force who died in the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940. This chapel received damage from bombs which fell in that year and a hole made in the stonework has been preserved and covered with glass. The Tudor glass in the window had also been blown out at the same time.”

The service was led by the Dean of Westminster (left on the picture), the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said:

“Easter Day this year, 1st April, marked one hundred years precisely since the foundation of the Royal Air Force. Celebrations took place at St Clement Danes, the RAF Church. On this day, one hundred days later, our celebration of the centenary continues, where in 1965, at the Battle of Britain service, Her Majesty The Queen unveiled a memorial to Winston Churchill, and where annually we mark the great victory of the Royal Air Force in 1940 and honour those who gave their service and their lives.
The roll call of service and lives given is far greater now but the dedication and commitment no less. We have in mind not only the fighter pilots and crews but those who flew on bombing sorties, on reconnaissance, on life-saving and humanitarian missions, and that vast number of men and women whose active support was indispensable.
So we shall pray today for the RAF in its continuing service and its vital contribution to the defence of the realm and of our allies, to the peace of the world, for its continuing resilience and resourcefulness.”

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You can read the Order of Service here

Meghan and Harry departing

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The royal family then returned to Buckingham Palace for the “Presentation of the Colours” – a special anniversary or event in a Regiment’s history, where The Queen occasionally present a regimental unit with new flags, or ‘Colours’, in a formal ceremony.

Credit: Michael Preston / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Michael Preston / Alamy Stock Photo

In her speech made at the Palace, The Queen reflected on the extraordinary achievements of the Force and in particular her memories of the Second World War, saying, “I remember the Battle of Britain being fought in the skies above us, and we shall never forget the courage and sacrifice of that time.”

The royal family then made their way to the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a historic flyover from the Royal Air Force’s F-35 fighter and Spitfires:

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The Queen, Meghan, Harry, William, and Kate, watching the historic flyover up on the Buckingham Palace Balcony:

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Almost 100 planes representing the RAF over the years flew over The Mall following a parade by personnel.

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From Independent:

“The Red Arrows and three of Britain’s new F-35 Lightning stealth fighters were among the 100 aircraft taking part in a flypast over Buckingham Palace, along with Puma and Chinook helicopters, a Lancaster bomber, Spitfires, Hurricanes, Tornados and 22 Typhoons helping to spell out “100” in the skies over London.

Squadron Leader Mike Child said organising the display had taken “months of planning”, with pilots undertaking simulator training to ensure they remained perfectly synchronised.”

A uniformed parade down The Mall outside the palace was also held to honour the thousands of men and women who have served since the RAF’s founding on 1 April 1918 in the final months of the First World War

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A video from the balcony:

Later, Harry and Meghan, along with Prince William and Kate, appeared at a reception at the palace with servicemen and women. They also got to meet charity representatives involved in the RAF100 Appeal, RAF Veterans and Civil Service personnel involved in the Centenary celebrations.

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Meghan was all smiling:

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For the occasion Meghan wore a fitted bespoke Christian Dior A-line dress with a boatneck. The neckline is very similar to her wedding dress in my opinion.

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And a matching Stephen Jones hat. paired with her Cartier earrings from the wedding

Her added a pair of custom Christian Dior Suede Heels to the look

And the Dior Navy Satin Clutch Bag (bespoke piece without bee clasp).

That’s a wrap

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