Queen hails tenacity and gallantry of RAF as Royal family watch centenary flypast

The Queen spoke proudly not only as the RAF’s Air Commodore-in-Chief, but also as a citizen who remembered the Battle of Britain, and as a daughter whose father King George VI served with the RAF.She said: “Presenting the Royal Air Force with a new Queen’s Colour provides an opportunity to congratulate the service for your remarkable contribution to defence over the last 100 years.”Tenacity, skill and gallantry have been your hallmarks as you helped safeguard freedom and security in many parts of the world.”I remember the Battle of Britain being fought over the skies above us and we shall never forget the courage and sacrifice of that time.”She also took the Royal Salute at the ceremony as her relatives including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge plus the Duke and Duchess of Sussex watched nearby.Royals attend Westminster Abbey serviceCharles, William and Harry all chose to wear No 1 RAF uniform to Westminster Abbey, with Kate wearing a Dacre Brooch – which was presented to her by the Air Cadets when she took on patronage in 2015. At just after 1pm on Tuesday, Puma and Chinook helicopters began the spectacle, followed by aircraft including a Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricanes, the A400M Atlas, Tornados and three F-35 stealth fighter jets.Drawing the spectacle to a close was the Red Arrows, who in traditional aerobatic style, streamed red, white and blue smoke down the length of the Mall. And in keeping with the traditional blue of the RAF, the Queen wore a royal blue silk coat with a turquoise collar and dress in the same colour, both by Angela Kelly, with a matching hat by Angela Kelly and a diamond star brooch. With three weeks set aside for training ahead of the flypast, he said the Typhoon force is still delivering on operations around the world, and through Quick Reaction Alert.”What we have done is reduce the training flying back in the UK, it is not that we are stopping it, we are just reduced it,” he said of managing training, formation practice and operations.Asked what the Queen will have made of the display, he said: “It is going to be quite a tight formation, I think hopefully she will be very impressed, it is going to be loud as well going down the Mall.”The Queen and other members of the Royal family have been leading national celebrations as the Royal Air Force marks a centenary since its formation. Prince George And Princess Charlotte are spotted at the window of Buckingham Palace waving and sticking their tongues out to royal fans belowCredit:WENN.com The Prince of Wales salutes outside Westminster Abbey The Queen wore a royal blue silk coat with a turquoise collar over a dress in the same colour for the serviceCredit:SIMON DAWSON /Reuters Kate wore a coat by Alexander McQueen, and a hat by Sean Barrett, with Meghan choosing to wear a dress by Dior and a hat by royal milliner Stephen Jones. “It is the high point for the capital, Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal family,” he said.”And it is a great opportunity to look back and really celebrate our past, but to look forward is a really important thing for us as we look to the next 100 years.” Duchess of Sussex and Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) at Westminster Abbey Squadron Leader Mike Child said the arrangement of the aircraft took “months of planning”, with pilots also undertaking simulator training and multiple briefings. The Prince of Wales salutes outside Westminster AbbeyCredit:Steve Parsons /PA He described being at the forefront of the flypast as a “great honour”, and said he hopes the Queen and royal family will see “exactly what they can do” for the monarch.Asked what message a 100-aircraft flypast may send to Britain’s adversaries and the world, he said: “It demonstrates we are a competent, professional and capable air force that has a credible, very credible, set of capabilities.”Charles, Camilla, William, Harry and Meghan will also meet veterans, personnel, charity representatives and those from the civil service in a reception after the spectacle.Video: 100 years of the Royal Air Force  Military aircraft pass near Wimbledon Asked how hard it has been putting together the formation, he said: “It has been difficult because it is the biggest formation we have ever done as a Typhoon force.”We have done nine ships – which are the diamond nine – which is a relatively basic formation, but it is actually making something that big.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, addressed the congregation and said the RAF has in its first 100 years been a decisive factor in serving the country, as well as being key in protecting democracy and freedom.With an RAF ensign draped over the high altar behind him in the abbey, Mr Welby also highlighted how members of his own family have served and been killed in the RAF – drawing attention to his own father who flew low level sorties in Burma.Video: Royals at Westminster Abbey The Red Arrows fly over a full-size replica of a Hawker Hurricane in Windsor The Red Arrows fly over a full-size replica of a Hawker Hurricane in WindsorCredit:Stan Kujawa  Theresa May arrives at Westminster Abbey Service personnel spelling out 100 on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace as crowds fill the Mall Credit:Pixel8000  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at a service at Westminster Abbey It was 100 years ago on April 1 1918 that the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to create the RAF – the world’s first independent air service.Beginning with a service at Westminster Abbey, the Queen was joined by family members including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.Queen praises RAF for ‘tenacity, skill and gallantry’The Queen has praised the Royal Air Force for its “tenacity, skill and gallantry”. Standing in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, she spoke of the “remarkable contribution to defence” over the last 100 years. Set to fly in the back seat of one of the jets, asked how he feels to be involved, he said: “It is an overwhelming sense of pride… to be involved on the day – flying will be just amazing.” Prince George And Princess Charlotte are spotted at the window of Buckingham Palace waving and sticking their tongues out to royal fans below. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the Westminster Abbey serviceCredit:SIMON DAWSON /Reuters And despite still being on maternity leave, after giving birth to Prince Louis only 11 weeks ago, it is understood that Kate felt it was important to attend Tuesday’s celebrations. Members of the Royal Air Force parade down The MallCredit:Victoria Jones /PA The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the Westminster Abbey service Spectators at Wimbledon watch the military aircraft pass overheadCredit:ANDREW COULDRIDGE /Reuters Theresa May shakes hands as she arrives at Westminster AbbeyCredit:SIMON DAWSON /Reuters Members of the Royal Air Force parade down The Mall The Queen wore a royal blue silk coat with a turquoise collar over a dress in the same colour for the service Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry Duke of Sussex, Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Katherine Duchess of Cambridge watch the RAF 100th anniversary flypast The Queen has praised the Royal Air Force for its “tenacity, skill and gallantry” as she was joined by senior members of the Royal family at the centrepiece of events marking the force’s 100th year.Standing in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace as she presented the Queen’s Colour to the RAF, she spoke of the “remarkable contribution to defence” over the last 100 years.The largest ever formation of RAF Typhoons then spelt out 100 in the skies above the palace. A total of 22 of the fighter jets took part in the flypast, forming into the numbers, which had served as a surprise for the public and Royal family watching the spectacle.The Metropolitan Police estimated between 65,000 and 70,000 people lined the  streets of central London to see the flypast, it is understood. It was 100 years ago on April 1 1918 that the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to create the RAF – the world’s first independent air service. More than 2,200 people packed Westminster Abbey for the service, with dignitaries including Prime Minister Theresa May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attending alongside the royals. The Red Arrows perform a fly past over Buckingham Palace – streaming red, white and blue smoke down the length of the MallCredit:HENRY NICHOLLS /Reuters RAF spelling out 100 on the forecourt of the palace as the massed crowds fill the Mall  The Queen watches the flypast with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke and Duchess of CambridgeCredit:PAUL GROVER FOR THE TELEGRAPH  The Duke and Duchess of Sussex outside Westminster AbbeyCredit:CHRIS J RATCLIFFE /AFP The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at a service at Westminster AbbeyCredit:Steve Parsons /PA Flypast is ‘centrepiece’ of the RAF’s 100th yearAir-Vice Marshal Gerry Mayhew, the air officer commanding No 1 group and the senior responsible officer for the flypast, said the day is the “centrepiece” of the RAF’s 100th year. Flypast The officer commanding the Red Arrows, Wing Commander Andrew Keith, who took the helm in August, said it is an incredible year to be leading them. Aircraft that will feature in flypastThe flypast is set to feature aircraft including Puma and Chinook helicopters, a Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricanes, the A400M Atlas, Tornados, Typhoons and the F-35 stealth fighter jets.Drawing the spectacle to a close will be the Red Arrows, who in traditional aerobatic style will stream red, white and blue smoke down the length of The Mall. During the flypast, he said he will be flying in the formation in the back seat of the team leader’s jet, “getting a few photos”.”It is going to be business as usual for us – and hopefully clocking over that 100th aircraft,” he said when asked if they will be doing anything different on the day. The 38-year-old said he came up with a lot of the shape of the formation in terms of references, and measured it all out and where everyone should be.He revealed much of the practice has been taking place over the North Sea more than 120 miles out from land to avoid being spotted, and to give them more space.”That formation is relatively big and unwieldy and trying to manoeuvre it is difficult, so doing it over land is harder,” Sqn Ldr Child said.Five frontline Typhoon squadrons, plus one training unit, are involved in the formation – with eight jets and 150 personnel brought down from RAF Lossiemouth to RAF Coningsby for the flypast. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more