Saturday, 11 July 2015

A flypast with a difference

We're used to seeing flypasts at Buckingham Palace - after all, it's less than a month since we had the last one. On that occasion, it was the Queen's official birthday being marked. This time round, the Queen was marking a major event herself as she was joined by other members of the Royal Family to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The Royal Family looks to the skies during a flypast to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain
(@RoyalAirForceUK Twitter)

It was eyes up for a collection of Hurricanes and Spitfires in an event tinged with history and poignancy. There are very few of those famous craft still airworthy and the sight of them in the skies over London was a moving reminder that they are fading into history.

While the Queen and other members of the Royal Family who hold the rank of Commodore stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, six of the men who had once piloted the famous craft now flying high above sat before the royal residence and watched their memories speed by overhead. The event took place on the date widely acknowledged as the start of the Battle of Britain - July 10th.


The Queen, in bright yellow and pink, was in London as the Battle of Britain began - her mother famously said that the family would never leave the country during the Second World War. Seventy five years on, she stood on the balcony to remember. At her side was Prince Philip who was also alive when the battle was taking place as were two other royals on that balcony - the Duke of Kent and his sister, Princess Alexandra. Two more royal cousins who lived through part of World War Two, Prince Michael of Kent and the Duke of Gloucester, were also there for the flypast - in fact, more than half of the royals present on this special day had lived through at least a section of that war.


After the flypast, members of the Royal Family attended a lunch to mark the anniversary and among the guests of honour were those surviving pilots who had flown in the Battle of Britain.


The lunch made more headlines than expected when a camera caught Prince Philip swearing at a photographer. Telling him to get a move on, though slightly more emphatically than that, the prince looked furious while the rest of his family looked on and smiled for the camera.


But the overarching memory of the day is the sight of planes, so vital to one of the most famous battles ever to take place, in the sunny skies above the capital they were defending while watched by the remaining members of 'the Few', the men so praised by Churchill for their role in history. This really was a royal flypast with a difference.

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