Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attend Battle of Britain service

19:09 16 September 2012

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attend the Battle of Britain Service of Thanksgiving. Picture: Sang Tan/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attend the Battle of Britain Service of Thanksgiving. Picture: Sang Tan/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall joined Battle of Britain veterans and their families at a service of thanksgiving today.

The Prince of Wales talks to portrait sitter RAF veteran Wing Commander T F Neil by a portrait of Neil by artist James Lloyd (right). Picture: Sang Tan/PA WireThe Prince of Wales talks to portrait sitter RAF veteran Wing Commander T F Neil by a portrait of Neil by artist James Lloyd (right). Picture: Sang Tan/PA Wire

A Spitfire and a Hurricane flew above London’s Westminster Abbey to commemorate the battle, which was one of the turning points of the Second World War.

Some 544 Royal Air Force pilots were killed in the bitter struggle to save the UK from invasion.

Of the events, Winston Churchill famously declared: “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed - by so many - to so few”.

The annual service marked the nation’s gratitude for the pilots and aircrew of the RAF who prevented Germany from gaining air superiority in the summer and autumn of 1940.

The Battle of Britain Roll of Honour was escorted to the Sacrarium by airmen who had fought in the battle, and prayers were said for those currently serving in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the South Atlantic.

Chaplain in Chief Raymond Pentland told the congregation: “If our Olympians and Paralympians, of who we are rightly so proud, held the hope of our nation, then those men, the Few, held the hope of the world.”

He added: “The Few inspired the world then and surely inspire us now.”

The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, greeted Prince Charles and Camilla as they arrived at the Abbey.

Speaking after the service, he said: “It’s very important from the point of view of passing on the message to the next generation of what these men did in terms of serving their country, their commitment and their courage.

“Today’s young men and women also want to serve their country. This is to make sure they understand why this is like a flame, a torch, that is handed on from one generation to another just like the Olympic flame was passed on this year.

“That is the same concept of passing the spirit and the ethos onto the next generation.”

Prince Charles, Marshal of the RAF, wore full ceremonial uniform, while the Duchess of Cornwall wore a nude Anna Valentine dress and a co-ordinating hat by Philip Treacy.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond also attended the service.

After the service Charles and Camilla viewed an exhibition of portraits of surviving Battle of Britain veterans.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London news

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Antisemitic crimes have more than doubled in London over the past year (Picture: Getty)

The number of antisemitic hate crimes - including assault, harassment and arson - has more than doubled in London in the space of a year.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Sebastian Szerer, a senior employee at a hotel, raped a man who came for a job interview (Picture: Met Police)

The former head housekeeper has been found guilty of ‘luring’ a man, 25, to a fake interview before raping him in the locked suite of a luxury Westminster hotel.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Walkers have been urged to report any suspicious activity in the area (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

People are being warned to be vigilant on Hackney Marshes after three women were stalked and hurt in what police believe were sexually-motivated attacks.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Police want to speak this woman after a child was kicked repeatedly (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

Police are hunting for a woman who was seen hurting a young boy in a shop in Wood Green on Saturday February 28.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Police and rescue crews try to find the male in the water (Picture: B.W)

A body was hauled from a Hackney canal yesterday afernoon and is believed to be that of a 17-year-old who was being chased by police.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Read more
Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Read more
Terrific tea, creamy cakes and splendid sandwiches at Mews of Mayfair.

Celebrate a truly quintessentially British tradition with the chance of winning a luxurious Afternoon Tea for two people at Mews of Mayfair, complete with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Read more