His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent watched on as the RAF Regiment conducted a momentous parade at Buckingham Palace to mark their 80th Anniversary.
The RAF Regiment were represented on parade by The Queen’s Colour Squadron of the RAF and ten other Regular and Reserve members of the RAF Regiment who carried their Squadron’s Standard.
The RAF have the honour of conducting ceremonial Public Duties across the London Palaces every year. However, this year they provided both the dismounting and mounting Guards, allowing a Changing of Guard to be comprised entirely of RAF personnel.
The Captain of the Guard was Squadron Leader Brendan Dunne, Officer Commanding The Queen’s Colour Squadron who was given command to execute the anniversary mount.
"As Officer Commanding Queen’s Colour Squadron, it is an immense privilege to find both Old and New Guard from within our ranks to mark the RAF Regiment’s 80th anniversary. The personnel of our Squadron work tirelessly to ensure the highest standard of ceremonial output on behalf of the Royal Air Force and for us to be able to conduct Changing the Guard in the presence of His Royal Highness, our Chief of Air Staff and the senior serving RAF Regiment Officer is a proud moment for all of us."
Squadron Leader Dunne
Officer Commanding Queen’s Colour Squadron
The RAF Regiment is a specialist corps within the RAF, established by Royal Warrant in 1942 it was born of the recognition of the necessity for an indigenous and credible RAF ground defence force. The success of German ‘Blitzkrieg’ tactics during the opening years of the war had signalled the vulnerability of airfields to attack by a highly mobile enemy.
The RAF Regiment fought in all the major campaigns of the Second World War with Officers and Gunners being trained to operate as infantry, armoured car crewmen and air defence artillerymen. All members of the Regiment were initially trained as combat infantrymen, an arrangement that continues to the present day.
The Corps particularly distinguished itself at Meiktila in Burma, where it had suffered heavy losses repeatedly counter attacking Japanese forces attempting to capture the airstrip; at Monte Casino in Italy, where Squadrons fought alongside Army Units; and during the Normandy landings, when RAF Regiment wings were amongst the first Units to come ashore at the Juno beachhead.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston and the senior serving RAF Regiment Officer, Air Vice-Marshal Mick Smeath were also in attendance. Air Vice-Marshal Smeath is currently serving in the United States as the Head of the British Defence Staff there.
"It was both an honour and a privilege to be present on the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace, to witness the Changing of the Guard on the 80th anniversary of the Royal Air Force Regiment; a duty that the Corps has undertaken, on behalf of the Royal Air Force, since its formation in 1942."
Air Vice-Marshal Smeath
United States Head of the British Defence Staff
After the Second World War the RAF Regiment saw service in Palestine, Aden, Suez, Cyprus, Malaya, Indonesia and Oman and also developed a capacity for internal security and peacekeeping duties. The latter were to prove invaluable when RAF Regiment squadrons deployed to Northern Ireland in 1969.
63 Squadron, who exclusively man The Queen's Colour Squadron deployed to the Falklands in 1982 to provide air defence for the San Carlos airhead. RAF Regiment Rapier Squadrons continued to provide air defence for RAF assets assigned to the Falklands until 2008.
The RAF Regiments principal purpose is to defend RAF airfields wherever and whenever necessary, in contemporary conflicts the corps has deployed to the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as maintaining Force Protection for RAF assets deployed in the Middle East. Most recently specialist from the RAF Regiment deployed to Operation PITTING, the recovery of 15,000 entitled Afghan personnel from Kabul.
It also prepares and trains all RAF Aviators for the rigours of operations. The parade provided an opportunity for the RAF Regiment to reflect on the achievements, sacrifice and on-going efforts of the RAF Regiment. The Regiment has proven crucial to the RAF’s operational success and continues to evolve to ensure the RAF maintains the advantage over any adversaries.