For the first time in 94-years, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) performed Public Duties for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. About 120 RCAF personnel, along with the RCAF band, travelled across the pond to the United Kingdom in June. During this trip, they would undertake the highly prestigious role, and for the first time, a Canadian non-infantry military contingent had accepted the task.
The Queen’s Guard is military personnel tasked with guarding the Sovereign and the official royal residences in the United Kingdom.
“We are on duty on several occasions, each time for 24 hours,” Major Véronique Gagné, Public Duties Air Task Force commander, told the U.K.’s Forces Network. “Each period begins and ends with a changing of the guard ceremony and then we perform sentry duties.”
The team arrived at Buckingham Palace in London, England, on June 25, 2018. It was suspected the presence of the RCAF at Buckingham Palace and scattered in other locations would be of great interest to both residents and tourists.
Before taking on their new duties, the team travelled to Winnipeg for a six-week training program to brush up their drill capabilities, then an inspection in London by the United Kingdom Household Division. Uniforms and drill movements were inspected by Brigade Major Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Stone who would then deem the team fit to assume Public Duties on June 21.
Major Dave Meister, the contingent’s public affairs officer, told the Forces Network, “You could feel the excitement in the air from the people that were part of the parade, and they are just so proud to be representing Canada. It’s fantastic.”
Adding, that when they passed and were deemed ‘fit for role,’ it was an incredible moment.
The RCAF carried out their Public Duties until July 15. While guarding the royal residences, the team participated in ceremonial events to celebrate the Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary.