Today, The Duchess of Cambridge, who is on maternity leave, made a surprise appearance at the events celebrating the centenary of the Royal Air Force. Catherine joined Royal Family at the Westminster Abbey for the service and later on at the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch the Royal Air Force Flypast.
Founded on April 01st 1918, The Royal Air Force is the first independent air force of the world. For one hundred years the RAF has defended the skies of Britain, preventing conflicts, delivering aid and combating cyber threats while working in partnership with other Services, from Operation Ruman – the UK’s humanitarian assistance operation in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma which hit the Caribbean in September 2017, to the RAF’s Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft, providing a UK air defence capability 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The Royal Family have a long-standing commitment to the Royal Air Force, with four generations of the family having served or trained with the RAF, and many holding honorary ranks and patronages with RAF charities and associations.
The Queen is Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force as well as being the mother and grandmother of former serving RAF officers, The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge.
Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918, the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. RAF played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain. The RAF describe its mission statement as “An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission” Today the RAF is engaged in some 13 missions across 26 countries and is heavily committed on operations both at home and abroad.
The Duchess of Cambridge received the patronage of the RAF Air Cadets from the Duke of Edinburgh in December 2015. Duke served the RAF for 63 years as Air Commodore-in-Chief. Duchess’ presence today was not only as of the RAF Air Cadets patron but as the RAF wife also as Prince William was the RAF pilot.
The Duke of Cambridge is the 4th successive generation of the monarchy to become an RAF pilot. He received his RAF wings from his father The Prince of Wales at RAF Cranwell in April 2008 after completing an intensive 12-week flying course. William and Catherine have spent many years in Wales together during his service period as RAF Pilot.
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.
Her Majesty the Queen was joined by Prince of Wales Charles, Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke of York, Princess Royal Anne, Earl and Countess of Wessex.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at Westminster Abbey.
Duchess of Cambridge greeting the RAF Personnel inside the Abbey.
The members of the Royal Family took their seats in Abbey before the service started. Abbey has a chapel dedicated to the members of the Royal Air Force who died in the Battle of Britain during World War II. The stained glass window contains the badges of the fighter squadrons that took part.
The theme of the window is flying men and wings, illustrated by passages from the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. The inscription on the wall says – “To the glory of God and in proud and thankful memory of those members of the British Royal Flying Corps who fell in the Great War 1914-18”.
Members of Royal Family left the Westminster Abbey after the service and headed towards the Buckingham Palace.
The Queen presented a new flag – known as a ‘Colour’ – to the RAF Regiment before her speech in the forecourt of the Buckingham Palace.
In a speech on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, The Queen spoke of her father’s experience with the force and the RAF’s extraordinary achievements in its first 100 years.
“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.”
Then the Royal Family appeared on the balcony for the flypast.
A ‘feu de joie’ (ceremonial gunfire) and a spectacular fly-past of RAF aircraft past and present illustrated the history and might of the Royal Air Force and showed just how far its aircraft have evolved in the past century.
A video of the amazing flypast.
A lovely moment between Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the balcony.
It seems Prince George and Princess Charlotte was not left out of the spectacular flypast. They were spotted at the Buckingham Palace window with their Nanny Maria Teresa.
In the afternoon, there were receptions at Buckingham Palace and on Horse Guards Parade where members of the Royal Family had a chance to meet RAF veterans, serving personnel and their families.
After the christening of Prince Louis at the St. James Palace yesterday, I was not expecting The Duchess to be present at today’s event. It was a lovely gesture from her to be there as Prince William has served as RAF pilot for a long time.
One amusing fact about the coat is the design. It has the same design as the white coat dress Duchess wore at the christening of Princess Charlotte. Duchess wore the same design on Royal Wedding this year. The coat features wide lapel collars with fit and flare bodice.
Duchess debuted a new hat and milliner Sean Barrett today. She wore a matching pale blue beret. Milliner Sean Barrett is famous for his designs for the cast of Downtown Abbey and The Crown.
Duchess accessorized the dress with Queen’s Diamond Pendant Earrings that we have seen in past many times.
Another important accessory for the day was the Royal Air Force Brooch that Duchess received recently. Air Cadets Dacre Brooch is the highest award any female Air Cadet can achieve.
Catherine was wearing her Gianvito Rossi’s ‘Gianvito 105’ pumps.
The Duchess carried a pale blue clutch today is also from Alexander McQueen.