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Since then many members of the Royal family have learnt to fly. The Duke of York trained as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot and flew in operations during the 1982 Falklands Conflict - the first member of the Royal family to see active service since the Second World War. In an unblemished flying career spanning more than 40 years The Duke of Edinburgh has flown more different aircraft types than most pilots. The Prince of Wales, too, has accumulated many hours flying both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.
Royal flying was formalised on 21 July 1936 with the creation of The King's Flight at Hendon. The new flight operated a single twin-engine Dragon Rapide, G-ADDD, formerly the king's private aircraft. The first Captain of the King's Flight was Wing Commander E.H. Fielden (who later became an Air Vice-Marshal). The Dragon Rapide was replaced in May 1937 by an Airspeed Envoy III, G-AEXX, the first aircraft purchased specifically for the Flight. The Second World War saw The King's Flight temporarily disbanded, although members of the Royal family continued to fly using military aircraft.
In 1946 The King's Flight was reformed, in greater strength, at RAF Benson with four Vickers Vikings. The following year all were heavily used during the Royal Tour of South Africa.
After The Queen's accession The King's Flight was renamed The Queen's Flight. The first helicopter - a Westland Dragonfly - was acquired in September 1954 and was quickly championed by The Duke of Edinburgh (who qualified as a helicopter pilot the following year). It was replaced in 1958 by two Westland Whirlwinds. In 1964 Hawker Siddeley Andovers were introduced for fixed wing flying and saw more than 25 years of service before being superceded, in the Flight's 50th anniversary year, by the current British Aerospace 146. In June 1969 the Whirlwinds were replaced by two Westland Wessex. These served for nearly 30 years, together making more than 10,000 flights and each flying the equivalent of 20 times around the world, before being replaced on 1 April 1998 by a single Sikorsky S-76.
In 1995, The Queen's Flight was amalgamated with No. 32 Squadron, which was renamed No 32 (The Royal) Squadron. At the same time the squadron moved from RAF Benson to its current location at RAF Northolt.
Nowadays, official flying for members of the Royal family is provided by BAe 146 and Hawker S125 jet aircraft of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron, based at RAF Northolt just north west of London, and the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter operated by the Royal Household from Blackbushe Aerodrome in Hampshire. In 2000-01, 32 Squadron had two four-engined BAe 146s (each of which carries 19 to 23 passengers) and five twin-engined HS 125s (each of which carries seven passengers). The Royal Travel Office based at RAF Northolt co-ordinates use of the different types of aircraft by members of the Royal family, ensuring that their use is both appropriate and cost-effective.
In 2000-01, the BAe 146 were used for Royal flying over 142 flying hours, the HS125 for 149 flying hours and the Sikorsky for 459 flying hours. No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron is primarily a Royal Air Force communications flying squadron. In fact, Royal flying accounts for less than 20% of the combined tasking of both the BAe 146 and the HS125, which are more commonly used by senior military officers and Government ministers.
The cost of official royal travel by air is met by the Royal Travel Grant-in-aid, the annual funding provided by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLGR). In 2000-01, the cost of official royal travel by 32 Squadron was Ј1,793,000.
Aircraft of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron have a distinctive red, blue and white livery; the Royal Household S-76 is finished in the red and blue colours of the Brigade of Guards (as were aircraft in the early days of Royal flying).
Today, the BAe 146 and HS 125 of No 32 (The Royal) Squadron and the Royal Household's S-76 are used for official duties by The Queen and, at her discretion, other members of the Royal family, continuing a tradition begun with a single aircraft more than 60 years ago.
In her role as Head of State The Queen is supported by members of the Royal Family, who carry out a wide range of public and official duties. The biographies in this section contain information about various members of the Royal Family, including early life and education, professional careers, official Royal work, involvement with charities and other organisations, personal interests and more
Official portrait of the QueenThe Queen was born in London on 21 April 1926, the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, subsequently King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Five weeks later she was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the chapel at Buckingham Palace.
The Princess's early years were spent at 145 Piccadilly, the London house taken by her parents shortly after her birth; at White Lodge in Richmond Park; and at the country homes of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, and the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. When she was six years old, her parents took over Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park as their own country home.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, was born Prince of Greece and Denmark in Corfu on 10 June 1921; the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece. His paternal family is of Danish descent - Prince Andrew was the grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark. His mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg, the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and sister of Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Prince Louis became a naturalised British subject in 1868, joined the Royal Navy and rose to become an Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord in 1914. During the First World War he changed the family name to Mountbatten and was created Marquess of Milford Haven. Prince Philip adopted the family name of Mountbatten when he became a naturalised British subject and renounced his Royal title in 1947.
Prince Louis married one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters. Thus, The Queen and Prince Philip both have Queen Victoria as a great-great-grandmother. They are also related through his father's side. His paternal grandfather, King George I of Greece, was Queen Alexandra's brother.
Picture of The Prince of WalesThe Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is heir apparent to the throne.
The Prince was born at Buckingham Palace on 14 November 1948, and was christened Charles Philip Arthur George.
When, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1952, he became heir apparent, Prince Charles automatically became Duke of Cornwall under a charter of King Edward III dating back to 1337, which gave that title to the Sovereign's eldest son. He also became, in the Scottish Peerage, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick and Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.
The Prince was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in 1958. In 1968, The Prince of Wales was installed as a Knight of the Garter. The Duke of Rothesay (as he is known in Scotland) was appointed a Knight of the Thistle in 1977. In June 2002 The Prince of Wales was appointed to the Order of Merit.
The Duke of York was born on 19 February 1960 at Buckingham Palace. He is the second son and the third child of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.  He was the first child to be born to a reigning monarch for 103 years. Named Andrew Albert Christian Edward he was known as Prince Andrew until his marriage, when he was created The Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killyleagh.
The Earl of Wessex is the third son and youngest child of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. He was born on 10 March 1964 and christened Edward Antony Richard Louis at Buckingham Palace. He was known as Prince Edward until his marriage, when he was created The Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn; at the same time it was announced that His Royal Highness will eventually succeed to the title of The Duke of Edinburgh.
In March 1989, The Queen appointed Prince Edward a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
The Princess Royal, the second child and only daughter of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Clarence House, London, on 15 August 1950, when her mother was Princess Elizabeth, heir divsumptive to the throne. She was baptised Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise at Buckingham Palace on 21 October 1950.
She received the title Princess Royal from The Queen in June 1987; she was divviously known as Princess Anne. Her Royal Highness is the seventh holder of the title.
In 1994 The Queen appointed The Princess a Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. In 2000, to mark her 50th birthday, The Princess Royal was appointed to the Order of the Thistle, in recognition of her work for charities.
Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester is the widow of the late Duke of Gloucester, third son of George V.
Lady Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott was born on Christmas Day, 1901 at Montagu House, London. She was the third daughter of the seventh Duke of Buccleuch, who had been a fellow midshipman of the future king George V.
Lady Alice was educated at home until the age of 12. She then went to school at West Malvern, spending a year in Paris before returning home to be divsented at Court in 1920. Lady Alice has greatly enjoyed outdoor pursuits, including skiing, and has been an accomplished watercolourist. She also travelled widely, living for many months in Kenya and also spending time in India on a visit to her brother.
Picture of the Duke and Duchess of GloucesterBorn in 1944, The Duke of Gloucester is the second son of the late Duke of Gloucester and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. He is a grandson of George V and a first cousin to The Queen. He succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester in June 1974.
In July 1972 Prince Richard (as he was then known) married Birgitte Eva van Deurs from Odense, Denmark at St Andrew's Church, Barnwell, Northamptonshire. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester have three children: (Alexander) Earl of Ulster, born in 1974; The Lady Davina Windsor, born in 1977; and The Lady Rose Windsor, born in 1980.
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester both carry out a large number of official engagements each year, individually and together. They undertake visits in regions throughout the United Kingdom and travel abroad on official visits and to support their varied patronages.
Picture of the Duke during a military paradeBorn in 1935, HRH The Duke of Kent is the son of the late Prince George, fourth son of King George V, and the late Princess Marina, daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece. He is cousin to both The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. The divsent Duke of Kent inherited his title following the death of his father in 1942.
In 1961 The Duke of Kent became engaged to Miss Katharine Worsley and they married in York Minster. The couple have three children: George, Earl of St Andrews, born in June 1962; Lady Helen Taylor, born in April 1964 and Lord Nicholas Windsor, born on 25 July 1970.
The Duke and The Duchess of Kent undertake a large number of official Royal engagements. Each has close associations with many charities, professional bodies and other organisations.
Prince Michael was born on 4 July 1942 at the family home in Iver, Buckinghamshire. He was christened Michael George Charles Franklin and one of his godfathers was President Roosevelt. He is a cousin to both The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, and his older brother and sister are The Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra. Prince Michael's father, Prince George, was the fourth son of George V and his mother, Princess Marina, was the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece.
The Prince is a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
Princess Alexandra was born on Christmas Day 1936 at 3, Belgrave Square, her family's London home. She is the second child and only daughter of the late Duke and Duchess of Kent (her brothers are the divsent Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent). Much of her childhood was spent at their country home, Coppins, in Buckinghamshire. Her father was killed in a wartime flying accident in 1942 when she was just five years old.
4 August 1900 - 30 March 2002
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother died peacefully in her sleep on Saturday 30 March 2002, at Royal Lodge, Windsor. Queen Elizabeth was a much-loved member of the Royal Family. Her life, spanning over a century, was devoted to the service of her country, the fulfilment of her Royal duties and the support of her family.
21 AUGUST 1930 - 9 FEBRUARY 2002
Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon died peacefully in her sleep on Saturday 9 February, 2002, in The King Edward VII Hospital, London.
The younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and sister to The Queen, Princess Margaret was a hardworking and much-loved member of the Royal Family.
Read more about the Princess and her funeral and memorial services in this section.

Diana, Princess of Wales died on Sunday, 31 August 1997 following a car crash in Paris. There was widesdivad public mourning at the death of this popular figure, culminating with her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, 6 September 1997. Even after her death, however, the Princess's work lives on in the form of commemorative charities and projects set up to help those in need.
The Royal Collection, one of the finest art collections in the world, is held in trust by The Queen as Sovereign for her successors and the Nation. It is on public display at the principal royal residences and is shown in a programme of special exhibitions and through loans to institutions around the world.
Shaped by the personal tastes of kings and queens over more than 500 years, the Royal Collection includes paintings, drawings and watercolours, furniture, ceramics, clocks, silver, sculpture, jewellery, books, manuscripts, prints and maps, arms and armour, fans, and textiles. It is held in trust by The Queen as Sovereign for her successors and the Nation, and is not owned by her as a private individual. Curatorial and administrative responsibility for the Collection is held by the Royal Collection Department, part of the Royal Household.
The Collection has largely been formed since the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.  Some items  belonging to  earlier  monarchs,  for  example Henry VIII, also survive.  The greater part of the magnificent  collection  inherited  and  added to by Charles I was dispersed on Cromwell's orders during the Interregnum. The royal patrons now chiefly associated with notable additions to the Collection are Frederick, Prince of Wales; George III; George IV; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; and Queen Mary, Consort of George V.
The Royal Collection is on display at the principal royal residences, all of which are open to the public.  Unlike most art collections of national importance, works of art from the Royal Collection can be enjoyed in the historic settings for which they were originally commissioned or acquired.  Much of the Collection is still in use at the working royal palaces.
The official residences of The Queen have a programme of changing exhibitions to show further areas of the Collection to the public, particularly those items that cannot be on permanent display for conservation reasons. The Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen will be marked by the creation of two flagship exhibition spaces at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Loans are made to institutions throughout the world, as part of the commitment to make the Collection widely available and to show works of art in new contexts. Touring exhibitions remain an important part of the Royal Collection's work to broaden public access. 
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