Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 15:22 UK

Princess opens air force memorial

Princess Anne at the RAF Association Remeberence Garden
Princess Anne laid a wreath at the memorial

The Princess Royal has opened a national remembrance garden to honour those who have served in the Royal Air Force and the Commonwealth Air Forces.

About 1,000 current and former RAF personnel and their families attended the opening at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The RAF Association Remembrance Garden is the first major air force memorial at the site.

Princess Anne laid a wreath after a service of dedication.

It was conducted by Air Vice Marshal Peter Mills, the RAF Chaplain in Chief. Veterans Minister Kevan Jones also attended.

The focal point of the memorial is a stainless steel statue of the RAF Association's logo, Eagle on the Globe, standing at the centre of tiled segments of the air force's familiar red, white and blue roundel.

Personal memorials

Crosses featuring the roundel and RAF wings have been set in gravel beds around the monument and - in return for a donation - will for 12 months carry the name of people visitors want to remember.

Similarly, stones bearing the names of fallen personnel have been set around the central memorial and path leading to the garden.

More than 90 standards were paraded at the opening, and a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew overhead.

The daughters of Flt Lt David Williams, whose RAF Tornado was shot down in 2003 near the border between Iraq and Kuwait, presented a wreath to the Princess Royal during the service.

Asked about the meeting, eight-year-old Elizabeth Williams - who was joined by her sister, Christina, seven - said: "It was a bit scary at first, but it was actually quite exciting."

Neil Ellison, RAF Association project manager, said the memorial gave members of the charity and anyone interested in the RAF the opportunity to remember loved ones.

On Saturday, the arboretum hosted a service to mark the 1949 end of the Berlin airlift, which involved British and US planes flying in food and fuel to west Berlin during the 16-month Soviet blockade.

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