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Queen pays tribute to mark 100 years of Royal Air Force

Queen pays tribute to mark 100 years of Royal Air Force

It didn't seem to be a requirement, but the other female members of the royal family were wearing one.

This year marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force - the world's first independent air force - which was founded on 1 April 1918, independent of the British Army and Royal Navy.

Westminster Abbey will host a special service and more than a thousand servicemen and women will take part in a parade on The Mall.

Much has changed in the 100 years since the RAF was first formed, but our nation's gratitude for it remains a constant.

Prince William - the Duke of Cambridge - is the most recent member of the family to qualify, receiving his RAF pilot's wings in 2008 and later qualifying as an operational captain with the RAF Search and Rescue Force.

The queen stood out in an RAF-blue coat and dress edged with turquoise, with a matching hat and a diamond star brooch on her shoulder.

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She also presented a new flag to the RAF Regiment shortly before giving her speech.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, his son Prince William and wife Kate, and Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, all joined the queen on the palace balcony for the display. Have you or someone you love ever been part of the Royal Air Force?

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: "Our founders one hundred years ago would be astounded by our air and space capabilities today, and what we have achieved throughout our history".

ACM Hillier told the Press Association he knows the royal family will enjoy the day of events - held 100 days since the official centenary anniversary.

It played a key role in defending the skies of Britain during WWII, when the queen was still a teen and her father, King George VI, was on the throne. "I think there is a very close personal connection as well as clearly that important connection between the Sovereign and her armed forces".

At just after 1pm on Tuesday, Puma and Chinook helicopters began the spectacle, followed by aircraft including a Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricanes, the A400M Atlas, Tornados and three F-35 stealth fighter jets. Around 70,000 people applauded as the Red Arrows streamed red, white and blue smoke down The Mall.