On Friday 5th September 2008, HRH the Earl of Wessex carried out a Royal Review of the RAF Police at the Headquarters of the RAF Police at RAF Henlow.

The occasion was marked with a parade inspected by HRH, a Royal Luncheon and a series of capability stands demonstrating a wide range of RAF Police skills and specialisations.

101 RAF Police officers and NCOs were assembled from RAF stations across the UK and from the Joint Provost & Security Unit in Gibraltar to parade in front of The Earl.  They were accompanied by a team of 4 RAF Police military working dogs and their handlers.

HRH was also introduced to retired members of the RAF Police and potential future members from the Air Training Corps.  The Earl also spent time talking to families of serving RAF Police personnel, including those recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Having inspected the parade, HRH The Earl said:

"For some reason it has been 35 years since the last Royal Air Force Police review.  So I doubt anyone here was on parade then. However I would think that in spite of the weather you all will remember this day with pride and for as many years."

He added: "We should not only remember those who cannot be present today but also the many families who have to bear the brunt of the extraordinary pressure put upon them."

The last review of the RAF Police was conducted by the late HRH the Princess Margaret on 5th June 1973 and this year’s Royal Review project officer, Wing Commander Kevin Bailey has spent the last year planning to ensure an equally successful day:

“I was keen to create as memorable an occasion as the previous Royal Review and one that we could all be justifiably proud.”

In spite of the wet and windy weather, the RAF Police pulled off a highly polished and professional performance on parade following an intensive bout of training.  Parade Warrant Officer, WO Dave Copland, said:

“This has been an extremely proud occasion for all those involved.  I couldn’t have been happier with the performance of those on parade.  The standard of drill was exceptional and was praised by the Equerry to HRH, a former Guards officer, as one of the best parades he had ever seen. 

We only had 3 days leading up to the parade to practice and considering that we had never drilled together before, we had to practice at 2 locations and 15 on parade had never drilled with rifles before, the outcome was remarkable.”

The historic event marked not only the 90th Anniversary of the RAF Police, but also the culmination of Project DARWIN II, a major re-organisation programme for the RAF Police.  The Provost Marshal (RAF), Group Captain Gary Horscroft said:

“This re-organisation has made the RAF Police significantly more capable and adaptable and will underpin the next chapter in our history of supporting the RAF and our sister Services on operations both here at home and around the world.

This year has seen an increasing requirement for RAF Police personnel to deploy on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and we are now committed to an unprecedented level in support of enduring and demanding operations overseas.  The Royal Review had a special resonance for us all in the RAF Police and provided a fitting tribute to the vital Force Protection capabilities which we provide to the Service.  Our people’s activities are often unglamorous, unsung and unrecognised, but this Review fully acknowledges the value of their operational contribution.”

Dear All,
Although belatedly, I record on behalf of the Association, our thanks to the 3 Standard Bearers at the recent Royal Review of the RAF Police.  Association (Keith Adams), East Midlands (John Curtis) and South West Area (Sydney Inch) as ever, very proudly represented all of us.
Also, I thank WO Bill Veazey for once again looking after us and guiding us on the day.  He has done this also at the Arboretum and Cenotaph, and Bill will again be on duty with us at this year's Cenotaph Parade.
John Walton

Photographs by Boots Hooton

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