LONDON (Reuters)

Queen Elizabeth and senior royals watched almost 100 aircraft, from World War Two Spitfires to the newest stealth fighter jet fly over Buckingham Palace on Tuesday in a celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of Britain’s Royal Air Force

Thousands of people lined the palace approach in central London, to watch a ceremony hosted by the Queen and culminating in the historic flypast of bombers, old and new, along with spy planes, helicopters and transporters.

 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth is joined by members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as they watch a fly past to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London
Britain’s Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as they watch a fly past to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Radburn

 

The Queen watched Typhoons form the shape of the number 100 in the sky, before the Red Arrows, the RAF’s aerobatic team, concluded the show, vapor-trailing the red, white and blue of the Union Jack flag.

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.

 

Charles and William both served as RAF pilots

The tribute to the RAF, which became the world’s first independent air force when it was founded as a separate entity from the British Army and Royal Navy in 1918, began with a service at Westminster Abbey.

The queen, dressed in a royal blue outfit with turquoise edging, later hosted a ceremony to present the RAF with a new Queen’s Colour, at which she recognized the service’s work.

 

 

“Tenacity, skill and gallantry have been your hallmarks,” she 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,” she added, referring to the decisive encounter between the air forces of Britain and Nazi Germany over southern England in 1940.

Some of the veterans were due to attend the celebrations on Tuesday, including Wing Commander Paul Farnes, who flew in the Battle of Britain, and Air Commodore Charles Clarke who was shot down over Germany during the war.

 

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison)

 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, in central London
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth arrives at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

Members of the Red Arrows Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team fly over London, heading for Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London
Members of the Red Arrows Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team fly over London, heading for Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/SAC Rose Buchanan RAF/MoD/Crown Copyright/Handout via REUTERS

 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wait in Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, in central London
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wait in Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaks at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, in central London
Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaks at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, arrive at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, in central London
Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, arrive at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

Military helicopters fly over London, heading for Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London
Military helicopters fly over London, heading for Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/SAC Pippa Fowles (RAF)/MoD/Crown Copyright/Handout via REUTERS

 

The Red Arrows perform a fly past over the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London
The Red Arrows perform a fly past over the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, in central London
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth arrives at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaks at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, in central London
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaks at Westminster Abbey for a service to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

Aircraft from the RAF take part in a flypast rehearsal, ahead of the RAF 100th anniversary celebrations, over RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire
Aircraft from the RAF take part in a flypast rehearsal, ahead of the RAF 100th anniversary celebrations, over RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, Britain, July 3, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

 

Military helicopters head for Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London
Military helicopters head for Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in central London, Britain July 10, 2018. REUTERS/SAC Pippa Fowles (RAF)/MoD/Crown Copyright/Handout via REUTERS

 

Helicopters take part in a flypast over the financial district of London
Helicopters take part in a flypast over the financial district to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in London, Britain, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs