Prince Charles & Camilla attend the Battle of Britain memorial service at Westminster Abbey

The heir to the throne, The Prince of Wales, and his wife, Camilla, attended a service of Thanksgiving and Rededication of the Battle of Britain on Sunday. Prince Charles is the patron of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, and was dressed in full Royal Air Force attire, while The Duchess of Cornwall wore her RAF brooch.

The royal couple were joined by a host of politicians and delegates including The Lord Mayor, the Prime Minister, and the leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn.

Chalres, The Prince of Wales, accompanied by The Duchess of Cornwall attend the Battle of Britain Service of Thanksgiving and Rededication to mark the 77th Anniversary of the battle at Westminster Abbey. Picture by Pete Maclaine / i-Images

The annual event marks the nation and the Commonwealth’s gratitude for the service and sacrifice of those who fought and defended Britain in this pivotal phase of World War Two; this year’s service marks 77 years since the battle.

In the summer and autumn of 1940, it was Germany’s objective to gain air supremacy over the English Channel to launch an imminent invasion of the United Kingdom. The Luftwaffe bombarded British ships and ports, before targeting radars and airfields, and finally major cities such as London, Birmingham and Coventry. The dramatic climax of the battle came on 15th September, when the Luftwaffe flew over 1,000 sorties over England. Despite the fact that the RAF was vastly outnumbered by the German Air Force, Fighter Command lost 1,000 aircraft compared to the Luftwaffe’s 1,900 losses. With the odds stacked against them, the young men and women of Fighter Command successfully fought off the very real threat of Nazi invasion.

prince charles and camilla, duchess of cornwall at the battle of britain service at westminster abbey (clarence house)

The Prime Minister, Mr Churchill said of these brave people: “The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Sunday’s service started with the singing of the National Anthem, before the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster gave the bidding: “Once again we come together on Battle of Britain Sunday in this House of Kings and House of Prayer to give thanks for the dedication and heroism of members of the Royal Air Force and the allied air forces in that remarkable struggle for air supremacy over Britain in October 1940. Their courage marked a turning point in the war, for without their bravery it is hard to see how the Second World War could have been won.

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“As we reflect today on their gallantry and fortitude, we remember all who have served and still serve in the Royal Air Force. We honour all who fight in the service of freedom; we express penitence for the suffering and destruction caused by armed conflicts; and we renew our commitment to work for justice, freedom, and decency.”

Service men and women from the Royal Air Force gave readings, before four veterans escorted the Battle of Britain Roll of Honour to the altar, to the sound of the March Theme of the Battle of Britain.

The service concluded with the playing of the Last Post and a prayer for, “the Church, The Queen, the Commonwealth, and all mankind.”

As the four veterans left the Abbey, a standing ovation and applause broke out to thank them for their service.

The bells of Westminster Abbey then rang out as members of the congregation walked to Church House, where a Spitfire and Hurricane flew over the courtyard twice.

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The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, and veterans of the battle watched the flypast from the balcony, before heading inside for a chat and refreshments.

Charles spent around one hour chatting to the veterans, and sat for an official photograph, before leaving the Abbey grounds with the Duchess.

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