Treasured Links

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force enjoyed a long and much-valued association with Her Majesty beginning in June 1951 when, as The Princess Elizabeth, she became the  the Honorary Air Commodore of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron. At the same time she presented the Squadron with the Esher Trophy. She visited the Squadron on a number of occasions over the years, often accompanied by her husband, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh. Her Majesty remained the Squadron’s Honorary Air Commodore until her death.

In 1952,  following the death of her father, King George VI,  Her Majesty took over his mantle as the Force’s Air Commodore-in-Chief – an appointment she held throughout her reign.

On June 1953 Force personnel participated in Her Majesty’s Coronation.

On 1 July 1953, Force personnel and aircraft participated in Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force Coronation Review held at Royal Air Force Benson.

On 30 June 1955, Her Majesty presented 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron with ‘The Standard’ at the Palace of Holyrood House.

When the Force’s Flying Squadrons were disbanded in 1957, Her Majesty invited all of the Commanding Officers to Buckingham Palace where she gave them this note: “I wish as Air Commodore-in-Chief to thank Officers, Airmen and Airwomen of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force for all that they have given to the service of the country by their enthusiasm, their spirit and their devotion in peace and war.  It is a sad day when it is necessary to tell so many that it is no longer possible to use their services, on the duties they have assumed so willingly. I wish them to know that they can look back with pride and satisfaction to service well done.

In 1962, Her Majesty received Group Captain The Right Honorable Sir Peter Vanneck at a private audience at Buckingham Palace on the occasion of his appointment as the Inspector of the Force. He was again received by her Majesty for a private audience in 1973 when he relinquished the appointment. Succeeding Inspectors, Group Captains Robbie Robins, Peter Harris, Mike Tinley, Richard Mighall, Bob Kemp, and Gary Bunkell were afforded the same honour of private audiences with Her Majesty.

On 26 October 1974, Her Majesty and The Queen Mother attended a civic reception at The Guildhall to mark the 50th anniversary of the Force.

On 12 June 1989, Her Majesty presented the Force with its first Sovereign’s Colour at Royal Air Force Benson.

In 1999, Her Majesty approved the award of the Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal to Reserve Forces of which two could be awarded annually to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

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MOD Media - Cpl Rebecca Brown RLC

Farewell to The Air Commodore-in-Chief

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation were greatly saddened to receive the news that Her Majesty The Queen, the Force’s Air Commodore-in-Chief, had died at Balmoral on 8th September 2022. Letters of condolence were sent to to her successor, His Majesty, King Charles III.

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force enjoyed close links with Her Majesty throughout her reign, and over 300 personnel with links to the Force were privileged to take part in the following events relating to her funeral on 19 September:

*     Two Flights, each with 26 Force personnel,  preceded the gun carriage carrying the coffin on its journey from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch. The first Flight comprised members from 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron of which Her Majesty was the Honorary Air Commodore. The second Flight comprised personnel drawn from Force Squadrons at Royal Air Force Brize Norton.

*     The Commandant General of the Force, Air Vice-Marshal Ranald Munro, and the Officer Commanding 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron, Squadron Leader Derek Read, marched ahead of the the gun carriage carrying Her Majesty’s coffin on its journey from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch along with senior representatives of other formations which had enjoyed a special relationship with Her Majesty.

MOD Crown Copyright – Cpl Tom Cann RAF

*     Wing Commander Andy Calame (former Equerry to Her Majesty and a Deputy Inspector of the Force) was one of the twelve pall-bearers who accompanied the gun carriage carrying the coffin on its journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. They also accompanied the hearse carrying the coffin on its journey from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch.

MOD Media – PO Phot Dave Jenkins RN

*    Air Marshal Sir David Walker (a former Master of the Royal Household and former Equerry to Her Majesty, the Honorary Air Commodore of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron and a member of 601 (County of London) Squadron) marched to the rear of the coffin on both journeys.

MOD Media – Sgt Robert Weideman RLC

*    Honorary Group Captain Ed Cadogan (a Scottish Archer and member of 601 (County of London) Squadron) participated in a vigil by the Archers (rear right) alongside Her Majesty’s coffin during its lying in state in Westminster Hall.


*   Air Vice-Marshal Elaine West, a Lady Usher to Her Majesty and member of 601 (County of London) Squadron, assisted with Royal Duties at Westminster Hall during the Laying in State and led the Chivalry Procession at Westminster Abbey.


















*    Group Captain Bob Kemp, a Trustee and former Inspector of the  Force. represented the Foundation at the funeral service in Westminster Abbey.


*     Over 250 personnel drawn from Force units around the country provided behind-the-scenes support.