RAF aircraft to fly Queen Elizabeth's coffin saw action in Afghanistan and Ukraine

The C-17 Globemaster has been extensively used in disaster relief and humanitarian missions

An RAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster III will fly Queen Elizabeth's coffin from Edinburgh to London ahead of the former monarch's funeral. Reuters.
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An RAF plane set to carry Queen Elizabeth's coffin from Edinburgh to London has seen extensive action and was previously involved in humanitarian missions to Ukraine and Afghanistan.

The “heavily used” C-17 Globemaster played a crucial role in the evacuation of 15,000 British and Afghan citizens as Kabul fell to Taliban fighters in 2021.

It also took humanitarian aid and weapons to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country as well as being used “extensively” in disaster relief efforts around the world.

The RAF has been tasked with moving the queen's coffin on Tuesday evening. The force has played a major role in the lives of many of the royal family, with King Charles III and Prince William both former members.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said the queen's coffin will get a royal guard of honour from 96 Queen's Colour Squadron gunners when it is loaded on to the aircraft in Edinburgh.

The plane, which will also fly Princess Anne south, will leave at 6pm and is expected to arrive in London an hour later.

The Queen's Colour Squadron, this time with the king’s colours on display too, will then give another guard of honour.

A hearse will then take the queen's coffin to Buckingham Palace.

He later added that "today is the day that we have long, long planned for but hoped would never come.”

Rehearsals for the procession of Queen Elizabeth's coffin in London - in pictures

Sir Mike praised the queen's interest in new technology, noting that when she began her reign, the RAF was flying Lancaster and Spitfire planes.

He also stated that the former monarch, who died last week aged 96, has a "close affinity and a close interest” with evolving technology.

“I’m in no doubt that the Royal Air Force holds a very special place alongside all of the armed forces around the Commonwealth.”

Meanwhile, Sir Mike said the king was a good pilot and could have had a “successful flying career”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I know that he enjoyed his flying, as his father did, as his grandfather did, and as the Prince of Wales did as well.

“By all accounts, I still speak to one of his instructors and there was no doubt that, had His Majesty the King chosen a career in the Royal Air Force, he would have gone on to a successful flying career.”

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Updated: September 13, 2022, 11:33 AM