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Philip 'swore at photographer'

Published 10/07/2015

A fly-past will take place to mark the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain
A fly-past will take place to mark the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain

The Duke of Edinburgh has been caught on camera apparently swearing at a photographer during a photocall with Battle of Britain veterans.

The incident happened on the day the Queen and other members of the Royal Family joined the former military fliers - famously dubbed the "few" by wartime leader Winston Churchill - to mark the 75th anniversary of the aerial conflict.

After watching a fly-past over Buckingham Palace of historic Spitfires and Hurricanes, Philip, the Duke of Cambridge and the Earl and Countess of Wessex were guests along with the veterans at a lunch hosted by the prestigious RAF Club.

Philip, who is known for speaking his mind and his public gaffes, appears to tell an RAF photographer in footage filmed during a pre-lunch reception "Just take the f***ing picture," after the royals and former pilots had gathered in a large first floor room.

The Duke was sittin in the front row of the group with others including his son Edward standing behind him.

He seemed to lose his patience after the RAF photographer, who wore military uniform, tried to make final adjustments to some of the sitters after everyone had settled into place.

As Philip swore at the man he pointed at him to return to his place where another photographer was waiting.

The RAF photographer seemed unmoved by the comment and can be heard saying "eyes on me" seconds later.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the incident.

The Queen had not joined her family at the event as she was holding a series of audiences during the afternoon.

In the past Philip has shown his impatience with photographers during the taking of group pictures to mark occasions.

After a photographer has stated he will take a set number of pictures the Duke has been heard counting them off and then getting up as soon as the last one has been shot.

His son, the Duke of York, once sprayed paint over a group of photographers, reportedly accidentally, during a 1984 tour of California.

But Philip is more known for his verbal comments which have landed him in trouble, angering race campaigners.

In 1999, he apologised for offensive remarks he made during a visit to an electronics factory in Edinburgh when he pointed to an old-fashioned fusebox and declared: "It looks as if it was put in by an Indian."

The National Assembly Against Racism condemned the remark as "absolutely abysmal and disgraceful" and Buckingham Palace later issued a statement, saying: "The Duke of Edinburgh regrets any offence which may have been caused by remarks he is reported as making earlier today.

"With hindsight, he accepts what were intended as light-hearted comments were inappropriate."

Earlier in the day the Battle of Britain veterans had spoken of their determination as young men to defend the skies above England from Hitler's Luftwaffe.

The six former airmen watched the fly-past of historic aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight and Typhoons, their modern equivalents.

Seated in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and proudly wearing their medals the elderly men looked to the skies as the planes thundered overhead, while the Queen and her family watched from the balcony of her famous London home.

Geoffrey Wellum, 93, who now lives in Mullion Cove, Cornwall, was a 19-year-old Spitfire pilot with 92 Squadron in 1940, and was credited with shooting down at least three enemy aircraft and damaging several others.

He said: "It's a great privilege to be here, if we had not prevailed in 1940 we would not have been able to watch the fly-past.

"At the time we didn't realise the Germans would be putting in this tremendous effort - they meant business and were serious about it.

"It was a very hectic time, in fact it was madly war. But at the age of 19, flying Spitfires in combat you don't think about what might happen to you, all you know is that you've got to stop them."

Mr Wellum, who is vice-chairman of the Battle of Britain Association, stressed they were supported by the ground crews and civilians who endured the bombing.

The 75th anniversary is likely to be the last major anniversary at which the elderly airmen will be fit to take part.

July 10 is a significant date as it is widely acknowledged to be the start of the battle, with a series of Luftwaffe attacks on shipping convoys off the south-east coast of England on this day in 1940.

The RAF shot down 14 enemy aircraft and severely damaged 23 more that day, according to the Air Ministry, with 641 aircraft completing 200 patrols.

The aerial conflict ranks alongside the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo as one of the most significant in British history. It was the first major battle in history fought entirely in the air and was the first significant strategic defeat for the Nazis during the Second World War.

To watch the fly-past the Queen and senior royals stood on the same balcony where George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother stood to greet the ecstatic crowds on Victory in Europe Day, May 8 1945.

Also joining them were the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

The fly-past was staged in the middle of an enhanced Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace performed by The Queen's Colour Squadron.

The Squadron has a dual role carrying out both ceremonial duties and operational commitments as 63 Squadron RAF Regiment.

The enhanced ceremony also involved ten military standards of Battle of Britain squadrons still serving in the RAF, and featured music from the RAF Central Band and RAF Regiment Band.

A few minutes after the last plane had flown over the palace, The Queen's Colour Squadron performed the rare Feu de Joie, or Fire of Joy - a celebratory cascade of rifle fire given as a salute.

The national anthem was played and there was also three cheers for the Queen, led by Warrant Officer Clive Martland.

An RAF spokesman at the event said he had not been aware of the incident and had not had anything reported to him by the photographer on duty.

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