Prince William dons RAF uniform as Duke pays touching tribute to Australian Air Force

Queen wears lime green at Commonwealth War Graves memorial

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The Duke of Cambridge appeared in a heartfelt video and paid tribute to the thousands of brave airmen and women who sadly lost their lives over the past 100 years. William wore his RAF uniform as he praised the Australian aerial forces’ “resilience, innovation and dedication to duty”.

More than 350,000 Australians have served in the RAAF since its formation in 1921.

The section fought in conflicts across the globe, including the Second World War, Korean war, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The force has lost more than 11,000 troops in battle throughout the past century.

William said: “The 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force gives us an opportunity to reflect on the service, courage and sacrifice made by generations of air force men and women in Australia and around the world.

“In conflict and in peace, the Royal Australian Air Force has developed an outstanding reputation for resilience, innovation and dedication to duty.”

The Duke also praised the role the RAAF has played more recently in tackling widespread bushfires in the outback and the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: “Over the last 12 months, Australia has faced the challenges of terrible bushfires and a global pandemic.

“The Royal Australian Air Force has once again shown its ability to respond quickly to supporting Australians in need.”

The Queen’s grandson served in the forces as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot and spoke of his own connection to allies in Australia.

William said: “During my own service I had the pleasure of meeting many serving Australians and have seen first-hand the special bond shared between our two services.

“More recently, Catherine and I have been welcomed at a number of Royal Australian Air Force bases and have enjoyed hearing stories from serving personnel.”

The Queen, who is Australia’s monarch, also celebrated the centenary year during a royal engagement in Surrey on Wednesday afternoon.

The 94-year-old attended a service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Air Forces Memorial in Runnymede.

During the trip the Queen paid tribute to the “skill and sacrifice” of the RAAF.

In a foreword to the order of service, the Queen wrote: “As one of the oldest air forces in the world, it is fitting to pay tribute to the efficiency, skill and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in its ranks, in Australia and overseas, during the past 100 years.

“Throughout my reign, the Royal Australian Air Force has shown immense dedication to duty and has defended our freedom in many conflicts around the world.”

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The ceremony began with a flypast by the Red Arrows and a wreath was laid on behalf of the Queen by her new equerry, Major Thomas White.

The event was the Queen’s first public engagement of the year outside Windsor Castle.

The monarch was last seen outside her Berkshire residence in November during the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph.

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