Queen's Colour Squadron
The Queen's Colour Squadron is the unit of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 charged with the safe-keeping of the Queen's Colour for the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. Since its formation, it has been manned exclusively by officers and men of the RAF Regiment
RAF Regiment
The Royal Air Force Regiment is a specialist airfield defence corps founded by Royal Warrant in 1942. After a 32 week trainee gunner course, its members are trained and equipped to prevent a successful enemy attack in the first instance; minimise the damage caused by a successful attack; and...

. It also has a secondary operational role as 63 Squadron RAF Regiment, a Regiment Field Squadron (RFS), responsible for the defence of RAF and other assets on the ground from enemy forces.

In its ceremonial role, the squadron is responsible for representing the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 at various significant occasions. The unit has mounted the guard
Guard Mounting
Guard Mounting, or Changing the Guard , refers to a formal ceremony in which sentries providing ceremonial guard duties at important institutions are relieved by a new batch of sentries...

 at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

, Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

 and The Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 on several occasions, and has fomed guards of honour for various visiting heads of state at Heathrow Airport, near its former base of RAF Uxbridge
RAF Uxbridge
RAF Uxbridge was a Royal Air Force station in Uxbridge within the London Borough of Hillingdon. Its grounds covered originally belonging to the Hillingdon House estate, which was purchased by the British Government in 1915, three years before the founding of the RAF...

 and its current base of RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force station situated in South Ruislip, east by northeast of Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. Approximately north of London Heathrow Airport, the station also handles a large number of private civil flights...

. The Squadron also handled the coffin of the late Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981, and an international charity and fundraising figure, as well as a preeminent celebrity of the late 20th century...

 on her return to RAF Northolt following her death in Paris in 1997.

The Queen's Colour Squadron of the RAF

The Royal Air Force had a ceremonial drill unit based at the Royal Air Force Depot at Uxbridge in Middlesex since the early 1920s. In 1960, the RAF Drill Unit was charged with the task of guarding and escorting the Queen's Colour of the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, and renamed the Queen's Colour Squadron. It was a pure ceremonial unit for 30 years, providing the sole escort to the colour, and famed for its displays of exhibition drill
Exhibition drill
Exhibition drill is a modified routine that involves complex marching sequences that usually deviate from standard drill.Teams performing exhibition drill are often affiliated with military units, but the scope of exhibition drill is not limited to the Military Drill Teams...

, which are performed without a single word of command. However, the Options for Change
Options for Change
Options for Change was a restructuring of the British Armed Forces in 1990, aimed at cutting defence spending following the end of the Cold War....

 reforms led to the squadron being given an operational role as a field squadron in addition to its ceremonial role. For this, it was given the 'number plate' of No 63 Squadron, being renamed The Queen's Colour Squadron RAF (No 63 Squadron RAF Regiment).

No 63 Squadron RAF Regiment

No 63 Squadron was formed as a light anti-aircraft squadron in 1943, a role it served in for the duration of the Second World War. In 1946, while serving in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, the squadron's role was changed, becoming a field squadron. It remained in this role until 1972, when it was planned to become the first RAF Regiment squadron to be equipped with the Rapier SAM
Rapier missile
Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and Royal Air Force. Entering service in 1971, it eventually replaced all other anti-aircraft weapons in Army service; guns for low-altitude targets, and the English Electric Thunderbird, used against longer-range and...

, returning to the air defence role. Two unexpected tours in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 meant that it was 1974 before the squadron converted. Following this, it was deployed in RAF Germany until 1992, when, with the gradual withdrawal of the RAF from Europe, the squadron was disbanded.

While part of RAF Germany, 63 Squadron deployed to the Falkland Islands on 5 May 1982, taking over responsibility for the air defence of the San Carlos beach head from the Royal Artillery.

More recently, 63 RAF Regiment deployed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as an RFS to Basra Air Station, providing force protection to the air base and the RAF air assets located there.

External links

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