The Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire will this summer provide the backdrop for a prestigious, Royal Air Force military ceremony in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.
Around 5,000 invited guests, representing current serving members of the Royal Air Force and its various associations and charities, will be invited to the private ceremony on Friday, July 11, to watch the presentation of new Queen’s Colours to both the Royal Air Force in the UK and the Royal Air Force Regiment.
Although the Queen’s Colour to the Royal Air Force in the UK was last presented at RAF Marham, Norfolk, in 1993, it is not since The Queen conducted a ‘Silver Jubilee’ Review of the Royal Air Force at RAF Finningley in south Yorkshire in 1977 that an event of this size has been staged.
The ceremony, comprising almost 800 Royal Air Force personnel, will begin with a Royal Salute and a flypast by four Typhoons from RAF Coningsby. The Colours will be escorted by the Queen’s Colour Squadron (63 Squadron RAF Regiment), augmented by other Royal Air Force Regiment squadrons and 34 Squadron RAF Regiment. They will be supported by two further squadrons made up of RAF personnel from around the UK. The ceremony will include a parade of almost all of the RAF squadron standards.
Group Captain Tony Barmby, the RAF Project Officer for the Queen’s Colours presentation event, said: “The Air Tattoo staff and the US Air Force organisation at RAF Fairford have bent over backwards to accommodate the RAF’s needs to stage this once-in-15-years event. For most RAF personnel, involvement in such a parade is a once-in-a-career experience. I’m no different and I’m very proud to have the chance to play a part. It would be easy to let the ceremonial aspects of the day eclipse the direct and hugely important link to current operations. As the historical rallying point in battle, the Queen’s Colours represent that link. During this RAF 90th Anniversary year, we are reflecting on the sacrifices and achievements of RAF personnel – Past and Present – whilst looking to the Future. For that reason, the presentation this year of new Queen’s Colours from our Sovereign has even greater resonance.”
Before The Queen departs, she will be treated to a mass flypast of aircraft representing the Royal Air Force’s past and present.
Coinciding with the Royal Air Force’s 90th Anniversary, the ceremony will be staged as Air Tattoo organisers make last-minute preparations for the 160,000-plus people who are expected to attend the world’s largest military airshow over the weekend.
Air Tattoo Director Tim Prince said: “The presentation of new Queen’s Colours is a very prestigious and significant occasion and it is being organised with all the precision and expertise you would expect from the Royal Air Force. Whilst we cannot take any credit for the organisation of this special ceremony my team feel that it is a huge honour to have been asked to provide the backdrop for it.
“I believe it is an illustration of the close relationship that has developed between the RAF, the Air Tattoo, and our parent charity, the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.”