Battle of Britain Day counted on a lot of royal support this year. This morning’s papers all tell how Prince Harry, attending the biggest flypast of World War Two planes in decades, gave up his place on one of the craft to ensure a veteran could fly. But Harry’s heroics were just one of the ways in which the Royal Family showed its support for the battle fought by those Churchill famously called ‘The Few’.
The Earl of Wessex attended a service of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral in London which was entitled ‘Leading the Nation’s Thanks’ and which paid tribute to ‘The Few’ as well as ‘The Many’ who supported them. The ceremony, which started at 11am, was also attended by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who has attracted just as much attention on today’s front pages over his decision not to sing the National Anthem during the service.
The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, also attended to pay tribute to his fellow countrymen who were so heavily involved in the Battle of Britain. President Duda later laid a wreath at the memorial to the Polish Airmen in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Meanwhile, Battle of Britain Day also saw the Duke of Gloucester paying tribute to those who fought and died in this crucial campaign of World War Two. The Duke was in Swindon where he took part in a short service of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the battle at Radnor Cemetery. He also laid a wreath at the memorial there.
One of Swindon’s most famous sons is Harold Starr who commanded 253 Squadron. He was shot down by enemy fighters in 1940 over Kent and is buried at Radnor Cemetery. To mark the 75th anniversary and to pay tribute to Squadron Leader Starr and his comrades, the Duke of Gloucester made his way to Swindon railway station for a very special commemoration. The Duke unveiled a new nameplate for a First Great Western train – it honours Squadron Leader Starr and will ensure his name is seen across central England and parts of the West Country for years to come as the train travels England.
And royal tributes to those who fought in the Battle of Britain will continue this weekend when the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attend a ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Sunday before meeting veterans and their families at a reception afterwards.
Photo credit: UK in Italy via Flickr