The Queen attended a Royal Air Force reception in Edinburgh on the evening of the 3rd of July.
Squadron 603, otherwise known as the City of Edinburgh Squadron was being granted the Freedom of the City. Freedom of the City of Edinburgh is the highest honour the city can grant to people and is given to those who are “held in the highest esteem.”
The squadron was originally a light bomber squadron which flew from RAF Turnhouse, which is today known as the Edinburgh International Airport.
The squadron was formed in 1925. They intercepted the first German air raid during World War Two on the British Isles on the 16th of October where they shot down a bomber into the Firth of Forth. This was the very first RAF victory in the Second World War.
They continued their service during World War Two to defend Britain. The Battle of Britain, a large military campaign in which the RAF defended Britain against massive attacks by the Nazi Luftwaffe, saw the 603 Squadron shoot down more enemy planes than any other.
The ceremony means that the 603 are the first RAF Squadron to be granted the honour of the city anywhere in the United Kingdom.
Today, the unit serves as a Force Protection and Operations Support Squadron; they are still based in Edinburgh.
The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, said: “The 603 Squadron has become an integral part of this city’s long and proud history. For decades we have proudly thought of them as ‘Edinburgh’s squadron, and in this centenary year of the Royal Air Force, it feels particularly fitting to cement our pride and gratitude with this lasting tribute.”
Members of the 603 saluted the Lord Provost before they marched down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Upon arriving at the palace, they met The Queen, who serves as the Honorary Air Commodore of the Squadron.
Earlier in the week The Queen was handed the keys to the city and welcomed to her “ancient and hereditary kingdom of Scotland” by the Lord Provost. In a symbolic tradition at the start of her visits to Edinburgh, she is granted the keys to the city; she then returns them to Edinburgh’s elected officials.
Later in the week, she will meet Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister to “honour her importance to Canada’s history.”