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Battle of Britain pilots meet Queen

The Queen will meet some of the last surviving Battle of Britain pilots from the Second World War today before later unveiling two statues of herself and the Duke of Edinburgh at Canterbury Cathedral.

Accompanied by Philip, she will speak to some of the final members of Winston Churchill's famous "few" at the National Memorial to the Few above the white cliffs in Kent.

The Queen will open The Wing, a new £3.5 million visitor and education centre at the site, home to an interactive experience which tells the story of the Battle of Britain.

The building follows the wing plan of R J Mitchell's best-known fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire - one of the two aircraft credited with doing the most to win the battle in 1940.

The Queen will follow in the footsteps of her mother, the Queen Mother, who unveiled the memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone, on July 9, 1993.

A flypast of a Hurricane, Spitfire and Typhoon will take place over the English Channel where RAF pilots defied Germany's Luftwaffe more than 70 years ago.

More than 500 of the 3,000 or so men of RAF Fighter Command died in the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940.

Of the remainder, a further 814 died before the end of the war. The average age of an RAF pilot in 1940 was about 20.

As the battle raged in August 1940, Churchill uttered his famous words in a speech to Parliament: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Later, the Queen, accompanied by Philip, will unveil statues of both of them at Canterbury Cathedral - the first royal statues to be installed there during the Queen's reign.

Sculptor Nina Bilbey, 47, from Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, carved the statues, which stand by the west door and were commissioned by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, said: "The new royal statues will be a splendid addition to the cathedral and they will be a sign of the high respect and affection that everyone at Canterbury has for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh."


From Belfast Telegraph