Page last updated at 19:53 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 20:53 UK

Queen marks RAF's 90th birthday

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The Red Arrows take to the skies

The Queen has said she is "enormously impressed" by the professionalism of the men and women of the Royal Air Force as she marked its 90th year.

She presented new Colours - ceremonial flags - to the service at its largest ceremony for more than 30 years.

The presentation was made jointly to the RAF and its ground fighting force, the Royal Air Force Regiment, at RAF Fairford, in Gloucestershire.

The Queen then watched a flypast of 90 RAF aircraft, the largest since 1990.

The event was to mark the start of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. It was due to be opened to the public on Saturday but organisers had to cancel the air display due to the weather.

Let my Colours be an emblem of your achievement
The Queen

It is the first time in 37 years organisers have had to cancel a day. A decision on whether to cancel Sunday will be taken on Saturday at 1000 BST.

Earlier the Queen told 5,000 guests and 64 squadrons it was the fifth time she had presented the RAF Colours.

She told them they should be "immensely proud" of their work but that she knew it came at "great cost" to individuals killed or injured in action, and their families.

She urged them to "protect my Colours" and "let them be an emblem of your achievement".

Colours are awarded by a sovereign every 15 years to mark a service's achievements.

Queen arriving at ceremony
Friday's event is the largest since a Silver Jubilee review in 1977

Group Captain Tony Barmby, the event's project officer, said: "For most RAF personnel, involvement in such a parade is a once-in-a-career experience."

He added: "I'm very proud to have the chance to play a part."

The Queen's Colours were last presented to the Royal Air Force in the UK at RAF Marham, Norfolk, in 1993.

Friday's event is the largest staged since the Queen conducted a Silver Jubilee review of the air force at RAF Finningley in South Yorkshire in 1977.

The 90th anniversary celebrations began with a royal salute and a flypast by four Typhoons from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

The Queen's Colour Squadron (63 Squadron RAF Regiment) is escorting the Queen's Colours along with other Royal Air Force Regiment squadrons and 34 Squadron RAF Regiment.




SEE ALSO
Weather delays flypast rehearsal
07 Jul 08 |  Gloucestershire
Thousands watch Vulcan's display
06 Jul 08 |  Lincolnshire
Queen to attend historic ceremony
12 May 08 |  Gloucestershire

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