On Friday 10th July Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, will witness an RAF Flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. For The Queen and Prince Philip, this event will be a family affair as they will also be joined by The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Andrew, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Duke of Kent, The Duke of Gloucester as well as Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
The RAF Flypast will take place during an enhanced Changing of the Guard which will be performed by the RAF Queen’s Colour Squadron and will also feature eight Standards of Battle of Britain squadrons still serving in the RAF today.
2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the struggle for air superiority over Britain between the German Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force. The battle raged from July to October 1940 and was the first major military campaign in history to be fought entirely in the air. Adolf Hitler saw victory in the Battle of Britain as a prelude to his future plans of the invasion of Britain.
The event at Buckingham Palace next Friday will see four Spitfires, two Hurricanes and four Typhoons perform in a flypast as well as a Feu de Joie(Fire of Joy), which is a celebratory cascade of rifle fire honouring the 75 years that have passed since Britain’s airspace came under attack. The Feu de Joie will be given by the Old and New Guards found by The Queen’s Colour Squadron after which the National Anthem will be played by the Central and Regimental bands of the Royal Air Force.
At the commencement of the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had many disadvantages including the fact that it was neither trained nor equipped for the long range operations that became part of the battle. They also had a disadvantage with their aircraft, the RAF had the Spitfire and the Hurricane whilst the Luftwaffe relied primarily on the Messecherschmitt and the Junkers. A huge advantage for the RAF was the fact that they were fighting over friendly territory, meaning that pilots who crash landed or parachuted to safety could quickly re-join the battle.
Following the Buckingham Palace flypast on the 10th July, there will be a reception and lunch at the RAF Club in Piccadilly. The Queen wont be in attendance at the reception but Prince Philip, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Edward and Sophie will be. They will be accompanied by The Duke of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra and will meet with the six remaining RAF Battle of Britain pilots and squadron commanders of Battle of Britain squadrons still serving in the RAF.
The Battle of Britain climax came on 15th September 1940 when 56 Luftwaffe planes were lost and just two days later, Hitler recognised the growing futility of the campaign and postponed indefinitely his proposed invasion of Britain.
The Battle of Britain may have been won but the bombing was not over as the Luftwaffe changed their tactics and resorted to strategic, indiscriminate bombing of British cities killing thousands of people and leaving many more homeless.
If you’d like to support the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, you can do so by joining the RAF Memorial Flight Club at www.memorialflightclub.com.