William hails courage and sacrifice of Royal Australian Air Force

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·3-min read

The Duke of Cambridge has marked the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), praising the “service, courage and sacrifice” of its generations of airmen and women.

William said in a video message that the RAAF is known for its resilience, innovation and dedication to duty.

More than 350,000 Australians have served in the RAAF since its formation in 1921, fighting in conflicts ranging from the Second World War to Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and some 11,000 have died in service

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The Queen, who is Australia’s monarch, also celebrated 100 years of the RAAF on Wednesday, attending her first public engagement outside Windsor Castle this year at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Air Forces Memorial in Runnymede, Surrey.

William, who was dressed in his RAF uniform, said: “The 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force gives us an opportunity to reflect on the service, courage and sacrifice made by generations of air force men and women in Australia and around the world.

“In conflict and in peace, the Royal Australian Air Force has developed an outstanding reputation for resilience, innovation and dedication to duty.

“Over the last 12 months, Australia has faced the challenges of terrible bushfires and a global pandemic.

“The Royal Australian Air Force has once again shown its ability to respond quickly to supporting Australians in need.”

RAF centenary
The Duke of Cambridge speaks with Wing Commander Jock Heatherill, a bomb aimer in the war, at an RAF reception at Buckingham Palace in 2018 (Phil Harris/Daily Mirror/PA)

William, who served in the forces as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot, spoke of the enduring connection between the RAF and the RAAF.

“During my own service I had the pleasure of meeting many serving Australians and have seen first-hand the special bond shared between our two services,” he said.

“More recently, Catherine and I have been welcomed at a number of Royal Australian Air Force bases and have enjoyed hearing stories from serving personnel.”

Royal visit to Australia and NZ – Day 13
The Duchess of Cambridge visits RAAF base Amberley on the Cambridges’ tour to New Zealand and Australia in 2014 (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The duke added: “While your second century will be very different to the first, I am sure that future generations of servicemen and women will carry forward the proud legacy established by hard-working and courageous Australians during the first 100 years of the Royal Australian Air Force.”

The message was played at the RAAF centenary dinner being held in the Australian capital, Canberra, with guests featuring the country’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and the Queen’s representative in Australia, Governor-General David Hurley.