The day began with a service at Westminster Abbey.
Harry and Meghan arriving.
Harry and Meghan joined Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal and other Members of the Royal Family.
Her Majesty arrives.
The Royal Air Force - the world’s first independent air force - was founded on 1 April 1918, independent of the British Army and Royal Navy. For one hundred years the RAF has defended the skies of Britain, preventing conflicts, delivering aid and combating cyber threats while working in partnership with other Services, from Operation Ruman - the UK’s humanitarian assistance operation in the aftermath of hurricane Irma which hit the Caribbean in September 2017, to the RAF’s Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon Aircraft, providing a UK air defence capability 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain. The RAF describe its mission statement as "An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission" Today the RAF is engaged on some 13 missions across 26 countries and is heavily committed on operations both at home and abroad.
Today we honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
We honour those engaged in missions at home and abroad today, often separated from their families for long periods of time.
The RAF Guard of Honour outside Westminster Abbey this morning.
The royals take their seats.
Harry and Meghan before the service began.
Did you know Westminster Abbey has a chapel dedicated to members of the RAF? At the eastern end of the magnificent Lady Chapel built by King Henry VII is a chapel dedicated to the men of the Royal Air Force who died in the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940. This chapel received damage from bombs which fell in that year and a hole made in the stonework has been preserved and covered with glass. The Tudor glass in the window had also been blown out at the same time.
In 1922 a stained glass window was unveiled in Westminster Abbey to members of the Royal Flying Corps who died during the war. The theme of the window is flying men and wings, illustrated by passages from the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. The inscription reads: To the glory of God and in proud and thankful memory of those members of the British Royal Flying Corps who fell in the Great War 1914-18.
Wing Commander Nikki Thomas, the first ever female RAF Tornado bomber squadron commander, read the poem High Flight by John Gillespie Magee Jr. “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings...”
Mark Hunt, an Engineer Officer in the RAF for over 20 years, read from The Birth of the Royal Air Force by Richard Overy. “No other fighting power established an independent air force during the war”
You can view the Order of Service here.
To mark its centenary year, special events, activities and other initiatives at local, regional and national levels will run until the end of September.
The Duke and Duchess departing.
The royals then watched the "Presentation of Colours" - a ceremony where a regimental unit is given new flags.
During her speech, the Queen said "I remember the Battle of Britain being fought in the skies above us, and we shall never forget the courage and sacrifice of that time."
The centrepiece of RAF100 was a magnificent flypast.
Up to 100 jets, helicopters and aeroplanes soared above London for the rare military celebration. The royals assembled on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to view the outstanding display.
The royals watching the flypast.
A closer look at the Duchess on the balcony.
Crowds lined The Mall in London.
The Evening Standard reports: "The flypast will consist of up to 100 different aircraft of 23 different types, with nearly 200 aircrew from 25 different RAF squadrons. The lightest aircraft will be the 120 TP Prefect at a maximum take-off weight of 1,440kg, and the heaviest will be the C-17 Globemaster III at 265,350kg. The largest aircraft taking part is set to be the Voyager at a length of 58.82 metres and with a wingspan of 60.3 metres. The Typhoon FGR4 is the fastest with a top speed of Mach 1.8, with the slowest being the helicopters."
A very nice shot of the newlyweds.
A video with excellent footage of the royals and the flypast.
After the flypast, the Duke and Duchess attended a reception where they met RAF servicemen and women, charity representatives involved in the RAF100 Appeal, RAF Veterans and Civil Service personnel involved in the centenary celebrations.
The RAF100 Appeal is a joint venture between the Royal Air Force and four major RAF charities. The aim of the Appeal is to raise money for the RAF Family and to create a lasting legacy as they celebrate 100 years of the Royal Air Force. The Appeal forms part of the wider RAF100 initiative that seeks to commemorate the achievements of the RAF and all those who have served while at the same time celebrating the vital contribution that the RAF continues to make, and inspire both the public and the RAF Family as they look forward to the next 100 years. If you would like to support the appeal please click here.
It seems fitting to include a quote from the historic speech made by Prime Minister Winston Churchill on 20 August 1940, referring to the ongoing efforts of the Royal Air Force crews who were at the time fighting the Battle of Britain.
The Duchess selected a bespoke Dior dress today. The stylish piece features a fit-and-flare silhouette, a boat neck and long sleeves. The dress has a very 1950s feel and works perfectly for the occasion. The iconic French fashion house specialises in understated feminine elegance - I do hope this marks the beginning of a new fashion relationship.
A black dress with a boat neck from the Spring/Summer '18 couture collection. I imagine Meghan's dress is a customised version of the piece.
Meghan's hat is by milliner Stephen Jones.
HeavenQRF believes Meghan's shoes and clutch are also by Dior.
Heaven kindly sent me a press release from Dior confirming they designed the black silk and wool dress, black leather clutch and shoes.
Meghan completed the look with her Cartier earrings.
A look at Harry and Meghan's Dublin itinerary this afternoon:
- The Royals will arrive at Dublin airport where they will be greeted by the waiting media.
- Meghan and Harry will meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Merrion Street.
- The newlyweds will enjoy a summer garden party at the British Ambassdor's headquarters, Glencairn House.
We'll see you later today when Harry and Meghan arrive.