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Guns salute the Queen as Royal Artillery marks 300th birthday

By Tony Jones

The Queen witnessed the firepower of the Royal Artillery yesterday as she celebrated its 300th birthday at a spectacular ceremony.

Weaponry both old and new - from historic cannon that fired a 21-gun salute to welcome the monarch, to sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles - were paraded in front of the Queen on Salisbury plain.

A "feu de joie" - a celebratory cascade of volleys - normally fired by a line of soldiers, was performed by six AS90 self-propelled guns - the main weapon of the regiment.

In a speech, the Queen paid tribute to the regiment, which has the monarch as its Captain-General.

"In all the theatres of war and in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions throughout the world, you have served with great distinction, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan," she said.

Master Gunner General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman also summed up the regiment's achievements. He said: "What of our 300 years? They have been defined by human achievement. In original thought, we were the first regiment to educate its officers and to undertake formal military exercises. In science (General Sir William), Congreve's pioneering designs from the 18th century were recognisable in the guns and rockets recently used in Afghanistan."

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