RAF100 in Paris

At the end of May, RAF Music Services continued the celebrations for RAF100 overseas in Paris.  The first of two events took place at the British Embassy, an annual festivity for the Queen’s Birthday.  It was an extra special year as it also incorporated the celebration of the birth of Prince Louis and the centenary of the Royal Air Force.

The Central Band performed a concert outdoors during a garden party hosting approximately 2000 guests, playing showstopper classics such as hits from Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and Out of Africa.  A musical ‘play-off’ on fanfare trumpets titled Post Horn Gallop concluded the first half by Corporal Edward Carpenter and Senior Aircraftman Malcolm Knapp.  The band joined forces with Queen's Colour Squadron to accompany their 12-man display, to the delight of attendees, and finished with a Sunset Parade.  Finally, a woodwind quintet concluded the evening by serenading the invitees with background music during their VIP dining night.  Various delegates attended, including the British Ambassador, France’s Minister of the Interior, and Megan Markle’s dress designer Clare Waight Keller.

Music on a music stand. Musicians playing music pictured from behind.

The second event took place at Les Invalides, commonly known as Hôtel Nationale des Invalides, originally a military hospital and retirement home for war veterans.  Filmed by the BBC, Central Band were joined by musicians of the French Air Force and performed alongside each other in parade formation to an audience of VIP’s including the Chief of Air Staff, Sir Steven Hillier, and his French counterpart, General André Lanata.  The Royal Air Force, in conjunction with the Allied Air Forces Memorial brought together two vintage aircraft from World War I and they were on display to mark 100 years of bilateral cooperation in the air.  The aircraft are a French SPAD VII in Georges Guynemer’s colours (on loan from the Conservatoire de I’Aviation de Aquitaine), and an AVRO 504K British biplane fighter (on loan from the Yorkshire Air Museum).

Central Band of the RAF stand to attention between two antique aircraft.

As the French minister gave her speech, she quoted the RAF moto to describe the future of Anglo French air relations;

“Per Ardua ad Astra”


Article by: Senior Aircraftwoman Sabina Heywood


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