Royals celebrate 75th anniversary of Battle of Britain with RAF flypast

Today, Honourary Air Commodores of the RAF stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a fly past, commemorating 75 years since the Battle of Britain.

The Queen was joined by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Cambridge, The Duke of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Duke of Kent, The Duke of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, and Prince Michael of Kent to see four Spitfires, two Hurricanes and four modern-day Typhoons, painted in WWII colours, soar across the skies of London.

Today’s flypast took place during the traditional Changing of the Guard Ceremony, by The Queen’s Colour Squadron; they also performed the rare Feu de Joie – a celebratory cascade of rifle fire given as a salute.

Six veterans, the only remaining survivors of the Battle of Britain, stood in the courtyard below the balcony to witness the flypast: Wing Commander Terence Kane, Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson, Squadron Leader Tony Pickering, Chief of the Air Staff Sir Andrew Pulford, Wing Commander Paul Farnes, Pilot Geofrey Wellum, Wing Commander Tom Neil.

Squadron Leader Duncan Mason, from RAF Coningsby, who led the flypast in a Spitfire, said: “For us, taking part today was an incredible honour.

“Events like these don’t often happen, but today gave us – the RAF and the nation – the opportunity to commemorate and recognise those extraordinary feats 75 years ago.

“Knowing six Battle of Britain veteran pilots were watching us flying the same aircraft they won the battle in was humbling and I hope we did them proud.”

The Battle of Britain took place in the summer of 1940, and was the German attempt to gain air superiority over the RAF, before they planned to invade Britain. The Spitfire and Hurricane planes were used in the protective campaign, taking down 1,887 Luftwaffe aircraft, and 2,500 German pilots, too.

This success saw a turning point in the war, which prevented an invasion, and is hailed as one of the most important battles in British History, alongside Trafalgar and Waterloo.

The Spitfire could reach up to 378mph, and was so feared by the Luftwaffe, that many Nazi crews claimed to have been shot down by one, to save face, when they had, in fact, been trumped by the slower, more numerous, Hurricane.

Hermann Göring, Lufftwaffe commander, asked Adolf Galland, renowned pilot, what he needed to win the Battle of Britain; he replied: “A squadron of Spitfires.”

Following the flypast, there was a photocall at the RAF Club, which Prince Philip attended with Prince William, Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex.

Prince Philip was presented with a book ‘A History of the Battle of Briatin Association’, including a foreword by  his son, Prince Charles. The former naval officer also appeared to swear impatiently, as the photographers adjusted their sitters a little more.

In June, The Prince of Wales revealed his commissioned portraits of the remaining pilots, having tea with them at Buckingham Palace. Sadly, one pilot who made it to the tea, passed away at the end of June, not to see the fly past, nor the 75th anniversary of his, and the RAF’s, success.

Feature photo: Getty

Share this

1 comment

Jan F Hollander Tue 15 September, 2015 - 3:57 pm

HRH Prince Harry,
A good and nice birthday with family and friends.

Jan F.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.