Royal Mile procession marks Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary
The Lord Provost of Edinburgh today (28 May) joined a ceremonial procession on the city’s iconic Royal Mile as part of the Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Serving RAF personnel, veterans, the old Provost and the UK Government’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland followed a Legion Scotland piper from Parliament to Edinburgh Castle, carrying a specially-created commemorative RAF100 Baton. During the ceremony, the Lord Provost announced that the city’s own RAF Reserves squadron would be awarded Freedom of the City later this year.
The procession was led by a team from the RAF100 baton relay, a UK-wide and international tour of RAF units and communities to celebrate the RAF’s centenary. During the procession the RAF100 Baton was carried by guests including the Lord Provost, the Under Secretary of State for Scotland Lord Duncan, and Graham Walter, a RAF veteran and drill instructor for Legion Scotland. Mr Walter, 74, is a former RAF electrical mechanic and served between 1961 and 1973 on postings in Aden, Singapore, Cyprus and the UK.
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and Veterans Champion, Frank Ross, greeted the parade when it paused outside the City Chambers.
He said: “Edinburgh has a long and proud tradition of supporting serving RAF personnel and their families, our veterans and cadets, so it is a great honour to take part in the commemorations for the world’s oldest independent Air Force.
“The 100th anniversary year provides our city with a unique opportunity to mark the outstanding achievements of our own RAF Reserves unit, 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron. 603 Squadron was the highest scoring Fighter Command unit during the Battle of Britain, and in recognition of the Council will be honouring the Squadron with the highest accolade we can provide, the Freedom of the City. I am looking forward to presenting this honour in just a few weeks time.”
UK Government minister Lord Duncan said:
“The RAF100 Baton Relay is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the rich history of the RAF and reflect on all it has achieved over the past 100 years. It was an honour to be part of the Edinburgh leg of this adventure and to join people from across Edinburgh and whole of Scotland commemorating and celebrating the service of those who have selflessly defended the Nation’s interests-at home and overseas – over the past century.”
Legion Scotland’s Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Gary MM, said:
“It has been an honour for Legion Scotland to have been involved in supporting the RAF100 Baton Relay as the team travelled throughout Scotland. Members of our Riders Branch bore the Baton in the north, and today we have graced Edinburgh’s Royal Mile with our standards, piper and one of our proud RAF veterans. Comradeship is at the heart of our activity and there has been a fantastic feeling of camaraderie today as we joined together to support and congratulate the Royal Air Force.”
Group Captain Clive Coombes, Chief of Staff and Assistant Air Officer Scotland, said:
“The RAF is deeply proud of its Scottish heritage, and it’s fitting that Edinburgh’s own 603 Squadron will receive the high honour of the Freedom of the City in the RAF’s 100th year. Today was also a chance for the RAF to thank the people of Scotland, who have full embraced our 100th anniversary celebrations over the last few weeks.”
On 1 April the Royal Air Force launched RAF100, a national campaign to mark its 100th year. The centenary itself will feature events, activities and other initiatives running nationwide from April to the end of September 2018. The RAF100 Baton Relay will take the campaign to communities in every region of the UK, carried by 20 RAF sports associations, serving RAF personnel, reservists, RAF Air Cadets and veterans.
Top image: A Legion Scotland piper leads the procession up the Royal Mile.