The Queen helped celebrate the RAF Club’s 100th anniversary yesterday when she visited the club in London.
One of Her Majesty’s oldest patronages is the RAF Club, which was founded in 1918 and officially opened in 1922. The Queen has been the patron of the RAF Club since 1952, which is open for use by current and former members of the Royal Air Force.
The Queen was given a tour of the club and opened a new wing which includes a fitness suite and business centre. Her Majesty also unveiled a stained-glass window that honoured the role of women in the Royal Air Force, designed by Helen Whitaker, and showed the development over time of how women were utilised in the air service.
The Queen also met women who have served in the RAF, including Jo Salter, Britain’s first female fast jet pilot who flew with 617 Squadron.
Before the visit ended, The Queen unveiled a portrait of herself that had been commissioned to celebrate the RAF Club’s 100th anniversary. It was painted by Benjamin Sullivan and featured The Queen sitting in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. Sullivan began painting the portrait in February.
The portrait features elements of the RAF, including a Spitfire from 253 Squadron and a part of a painting entitled “Hurricanes in Flight”, which had been painted in 1944.
The RAF Club, as previously mentioned, was officially opened in 1922 by the then-Duke of York (later King George VI). Other royal visitors include King George V and Queen Mary.
This was The Queen’s first engagement following her summer stay at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
The Royal Air Force has been celebrating its centenary all year, and over the summer, The Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended a service at Westminster Abbey, watched a fly-past, and attended a presentation of new Queen’s colours.
The Royal Air Force has been strongly entwined with the Royal Family. As The Queen noted in July, “In 1918, my father, King George VI, served alongside one of the Service’s founders, Lord Trenchard, before becoming the first of my family to qualify as a Royal Air Force pilot. That family tradition continues to this day: The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge have all earned their Wings, and wear them with great pride.”