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Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen conducts her fourth public engagement in over a year as she commemorates Australian war dead

The Queen has conducted a very rare public engagement – only the fourth of such since lockdown measures were first introduced last March.

Her Majesty left her Windsor Castle quarantine bubble to mark the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Air Forces Memorial in Runnymede.

On arrival at the memorial, the 94-year-old monarch was greeted by the High Commissioner for Australia, George Brandis, and Claire Horton, Director General of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission.

Exiting her car, The Queen said: “It’s a rather nice day. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.”

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on Wednesday marks 100 years of service to Australia. From modest beginnings in 1921, the RAAF has grown into an Air Force which Australia relies upon in both conflict and peace.

To commemorate and reflect on the occasion, The Queen attended a service where Her Majesty’s Equerry laid a wreath on Her behalf.

Following the Service, The Queen viewed panels bearing the names of Australian war dead and a display of fallen airmen and women in the memorial cloister, before meeting serving RAAF personnel.

Before departing for Windsor Castle, Her Majesty signed a commemorative document marking her visit on the anniversary.

The Air Forces Memorial in Runnymede was opened by The Queen on 17 October 1953. It commemorates more than 20,000 Commonwealth airmen and women who died during operations in north and west Europe and have no known grave. More than 1,300 of those commemorated at Runnymede served with the Royal Australian Air Force.