Royal Air Force aircraft took to the skies above Buckingham Palace today with a flypast to mark The Queen’s birthday, while unusually for this annual event, one thousand feet below RAF gunners stood guarding the Royal residence.

Leading the RAF’s Queen’s Colour Squadron (QCS) on the ground was Squadron Leader Ben Alcock. He said,

“We have a long and proud history of mounting the guard for Her Majesty the Queen; however, this is a momentous occasion for the Squadron, being the first time we have done so during Her Majesty’s Official Birthday celebrations.”

The Squadron are no strangers to standing guard outside the Palace having first taken to the forecourt in 1943 as part of RAF’s 25th anniversary. While the QCS are world renowned for their precision drill, Squadron Leader Alcock pointed out there is more to them than just marching in time.

“I think it’s important to remember that the young men seen parading today can not only provide a world class ceremonial spectacle, but each and every one of them is also a highly trained war fighter, ready to do whatever their country asks of them. It’s an absolute honour to serve with them, particularly on this special day.”

Squadron Leader Ben Alcock
Queen’s Colour Squadron

With London experiencing unseasonably high winds, some aircraft had to withdraw from participating in the flypast, but the crowds were still treated to appearances by Chinook and Puma helicopters, a BAe 146 and four Typhoons. Last to pass along the Mall and above the Royal Family were the signature red, white and blue smoke trailing Red Arrows.

Squadron Leader Ben Smy was the chief planner for the flypast. He said, “We are really pleased that most of our aircraft managed to beat the bad weather and provide a flypastfor Her Majesty. The safety of our people is always paramount and I know they will all be looking forward to returning next year.”