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Air to the throne: 100 years of Royal flight celebrated

Poignant images of Prince Charles carrying baby William and Diana’s coffin returning to Britain have been put together to celebrate 100 years of Royal Flight. 

The archive of pictures feature in a new book ‘Royal Flying, A Pictorial History’, also reveal the Royal Family’s passion for flying.

The Royal Flight was the world’s first head of state aircraft unit. The first recorded royal taking place on July 17, 1917 when the Prince of Wales, who went on to become Edward VIII, enjoyed a 30 minute flight in northern France.

The new book covers the the flying careers of Royals including Prince Charles and Prince William.

Two of the most poignant images show Prince Charles exiting a plane carrying a two-month-old Prince William in a crib after his first ever flight in 1982 and of Princess Diana’s coffin returning to Britain after her death in Paris in 1997.

One of the most poignant images show Prince Charles exiting a plane carrying a two-month-old Prince William in a crib after his first ever flight in 1982

A young Prince Charles looks enthralled as he walks around an aircraft during his flight training at RAF Tangmere in 1968

A young Prince Charles looks enthralled as he walks around an aircraft during his flight training at RAF Tangmere in 1968

The Queen pictured leaving her Heron C3 to open London Gatwick Airport in 1958. Aviation photographer Keith Wilson has been given unprecedented access to Royal archives to provide a fascinating insight into both Royal and aeronautical history

The Queen pictured leaving her Heron C3 to open London Gatwick Airport in 1958. Aviation photographer Keith Wilson has been given unprecedented access to Royal archives to provide a fascinating insight into both Royal and aeronautical history

Princess Diana's body was flown back to RAF Northolt in the Queen's Flight 146 in August 1997, following her fatal crash in Paris

Princess Diana’s body was flown back to RAF Northolt in the Queen’s Flight 146 in August 1997, following her fatal crash in Paris

Pictured is the Queen's Flight Wessex flying over London, with Tower Bridge and the River Thames in shot, in 1983

Pictured is the Queen’s Flight Wessex flying over London, with Tower Bridge and the River Thames in shot, in 1983

Prince Philip flying a Royal Flight Whirlwind in 1962. Starting in 1917 the book, 'Royal Flying, A Pictorial History' charts in pictures the 100 year evolution of first the King's Flight and then later the Queen's Flight

Prince Philip flying a Royal Flight Whirlwind in 1962. Starting in 1917 the book, ‘Royal Flying, A Pictorial History’ charts in pictures the 100 year evolution of first the King’s Flight and then later the Queen’s Flight

The oldest known Royal Flight - a 1914 flypast for the King's birthday by a BE.2 at Ludgershall. The Royal Guards are seen watching the display

The oldest known Royal Flight – a 1914 flypast for the King’s birthday by a BE.2 at Ludgershall. The Royal Guards are seen watching the display

Princess Diana visits the BP oil rig 'Charlies Darling' in a Queen's Flight in the North Sea in 1985. She had a three-hour tour and met the workers

Princess Diana visits the BP oil rig ‘Charlies Darling’ in a Queen’s Flight in the North Sea in 1985. She had a three-hour tour and met the workers

Prince Harry with his British Army Apache in 2012

Princess Margaret on the Royal tour to Africa in 1947

Prince Harry with his British Army Apache in 2012 (left) and Princess Margaret on the Royal tour to Africa in 1947 (right)

Flying Officer 'William Wales' at the controls of the C-17 Globemaster during his visit to RAF Brize Norton

Flying Officer ‘William Wales’ at the controls of the C-17 Globemaster during his visit to RAF Brize Norton

Coming home: Founder of Royal flying the Duke of Windsor's body was flown into RAF Benson in 1972 following his death in exile

Coming home: Founder of Royal flying the Duke of Windsor’s body was flown into RAF Benson in 1972 following his death in exile

The Queen Mother leads a young Princess Elizabeth off a BOAC Comet during a 1949 Royal tour

The Queen Mother leads a young Princess Elizabeth off a BOAC Comet during a 1949 Royal tour

The VVIP interior of the Royal VC 10 shows the small kitchen area, where cups of tea were made

The lounge area where the Royals could relax

1968: The VVIP interior of the Royal VC 10 shows the small kitchen area, where cups of tea were made (left) and the lounge area where the Royals could relax

A young Princess Elizabeth with Prince Philip and Royal Flight chief Edward Fielden in 1949

Sir Geoffrey de Havilland delivers a Heron C3 to Prince Philip in 1955

A young Princess Elizabeth with Prince Philip and Royal Flight chief Edward Fielden in 1949 (left) and Sir Geoffrey de Havilland delivers a Heron C3 to Prince Philip in 1955 (right)

His Royal Highness Prince William with the Queen at RAF Valley in 2011. The new book covers the the flying careers of Royals including Prince Charles and Prince William

His Royal Highness Prince William with the Queen at RAF Valley in 2011. The new book covers the the flying careers of Royals including Prince Charles and Prince William

Pictured is the Queen's Flight BAe146 and 2 HS 125's flying over the English countryside in 2002

Pictured is the Queen’s Flight BAe146 and 2 HS 125’s flying over the English countryside in 2002

The Queen Mother leaving a Westland Dragonfly in the 1950s. The Royal Flight was the world's first head of state aircraft unit, with the first recorded royal taking place on July 17, 1917 when the Prince of Wales, who went on to become Edward VIII, enjoyed a 30 minute flight in northern France

The Queen Mother leaving a Westland Dragonfly in the 1950s. The Royal Flight was the world’s first head of state aircraft unit, with the first recorded royal taking place on July 17, 1917 when the Prince of Wales, who went on to become Edward VIII, enjoyed a 30 minute flight in northern France

Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee greet Princess Elizabeth on her return to London from Africa after the death of her father in 1952

Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee greet Princess Elizabeth on her return to London from Africa after the death of her father in 1952

Spartan Beginnings: Edward Prince of Wales clambers into the 'specially modified' rear cockpit of a Bristol F.2B in 1928 - the first officially allocated Royal aircraft

Spartan Beginnings: Edward Prince of Wales clambers into the ‘specially modified’ rear cockpit of a Bristol F.2B in 1928 – the first officially allocated Royal aircraft

The Duchess of York leaving a Queen's Flight Wessex in the mid 1980's. The Royal Air Force officially allocated a series of aircraft to fly around members of the Royal Family

The Duchess of York leaving a Queen’s Flight Wessex in the mid 1980’s. The Royal Air Force officially allocated a series of aircraft to fly around members of the Royal Family

BAE Systems Edward Prince of Wales took delivery of this DH.83 Fox Moth in 1932. Between 1929 and 1935 Edward VIII purchased 13 aircraft and he officially formed the King's Flight in 1936 upon his short-lived ascension to the throne at a time when passenger flying was still in its infancy

BAE Systems Edward Prince of Wales took delivery of this DH.83 Fox Moth in 1932. Between 1929 and 1935 Edward VIII purchased 13 aircraft and he officially formed the King’s Flight in 1936 upon his short-lived ascension to the throne at a time when passenger flying was still in its infancy

Workers clearing snow from a BAe 146 in Sarajevo in 1996. The trail-blazing nature of the Royal Family is demonstrated by the fact that it was not until 1943 that a sitting US President boarded a flight

Workers clearing snow from a BAe 146 in Sarajevo in 1996. The trail-blazing nature of the Royal Family is demonstrated by the fact that it was not until 1943 that a sitting US President boarded a flight

A young Princess Margaret in the cockpit of the new DH Comet in 1951. Over the years, the King's and Queen's Flight operated a variety of aircraft and helicopters, many of them of British design and manufacture

A young Princess Margaret in the cockpit of the new DH Comet in 1951. Over the years, the King’s and Queen’s Flight operated a variety of aircraft and helicopters, many of them of British design and manufacture

Queen's Flight hangar in 1986. In a cost cutting measure, the Queen's Flight was effectively closed at RAF Benson, south Oxfordshire, in 1995 when it formally merged into No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron at RAF Northolt in west London

Queen’s Flight hangar in 1986. In a cost cutting measure, the Queen’s Flight was effectively closed at RAF Benson, south Oxfordshire, in 1995 when it formally merged into No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron at RAF Northolt in west London

Proud day: Prince William receives his wings from his father Prince Charles at RAF Cranwell in 2008

Proud day: Prince William receives his wings from his father Prince Charles at RAF Cranwell in 2008

The Queen and a young Princess Elizabeth are pictured arriving off their plane for a Royal tour in Africa in 1947

The Queen and a young Princess Elizabeth are pictured arriving off their plane for a Royal tour in Africa in 1947

Edward Prince of Wales had to don heavy flying kit and a parachute for his early Royal flights

Princess Anne and her dog arriving in Balmoral

Edward Prince of Wales had to don heavy flying kit and a parachute for his early Royal flights (left) and Princess Anne and her dog arriving in Balmoral (right)

Flying visit: Edward Vlll visiting RAF Mildenhall in 1936. The crew on board the Queen's Flight went the extra mile to make the flying experience as smooth as possible to prevent gin and tonic 'slopping around' in the passengers' glasses

Flying visit: Edward Vlll visiting RAF Mildenhall in 1936. The crew on board the Queen’s Flight went the extra mile to make the flying experience as smooth as possible to prevent gin and tonic ‘slopping around’ in the passengers’ glasses

Pictured  is the Queen's Flight at RAF Benson in 1964 - Whirlwind, Heron and Andover

Pictured  is the Queen’s Flight at RAF Benson in 1964 – Whirlwind, Heron and Andover

The interior's became a lot more luxurious with art deco style marquetry - the first aircraft specifically ordered for Royal use was this Vickers Viastra delivered in May 1933 and costing £4250

The interior’s became a lot more luxurious with art deco style marquetry – the first aircraft specifically ordered for Royal use was this Vickers Viastra delivered in May 1933 and costing £4250

The Queen leaving a HS Andover whilst visiting RAF Thorney Island in 1964, wearing a light blue dress coat and hat

The Queen leaving a HS Andover whilst visiting RAF Thorney Island in 1964, wearing a light blue dress coat and hat

The first aircraft specifically ordered for Royal use was this Vickers Viastra delivered in May 1933 and costing £4250

The first aircraft specifically ordered for Royal use was this Vickers Viastra delivered in May 1933 and costing £4250

A Royal salute - Prince Albert is recognised and acknowledged by soldiers in a Handley Page 0/400 Bomber in October 1918

A Royal salute – Prince Albert is recognised and acknowledged by soldiers in a Handley Page 0/400 Bomber in October 1918

Edward, Prince of Wales in the rear cockpit of a Bristol F.2B Fighter in Italy in 1918. The first monarch that flew was the Prince of Wales and like with a lot of people that first flight was enough to ignite a passion for it

Edward, Prince of Wales in the rear cockpit of a Bristol F.2B Fighter in Italy in 1918. The first monarch that flew was the Prince of Wales and like with a lot of people that first flight was enough to ignite a passion for it

Door to door service: Queen's Flight Wessex at Balmoral. Today, the Royal Family get about on a helicopter owned by the Royal Household and also charter planes for short haul flights. For long distance travel, they tend to fly with British Airways

Door to door service: Queen’s Flight Wessex at Balmoral. Today, the Royal Family get about on a helicopter owned by the Royal Household and also charter planes for short haul flights. For long distance travel, they tend to fly with British Airways

 

Royal Flying, A Pictorial History, by Keith Wilson, is published by Amberley Books and costs £14.99. 

 

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