Plane meant to fly the Queen's coffin was 'used in Afghanistan and Ukraine' The Talks Today

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Plane meant to fly the Queen's coffin was 'used in Afghanistan and Ukraine'
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Plane meant to fly the Queen’s coffin was ‘used in Afghanistan and Ukraine’

The plane that was supposed to transport the Queen’s coffin from Edinburgh to London evacuated thousands of people fleeing the Taliban in Kabul last summer.

The “heavily used” C-17 Globemaster was also used to bring humanitarian aid and arms to Ukraine after the Russian invasion.

The chief of the Royal Air Force (RAF) said the plane has also helped “extensively” with disaster relief around the world.

The RAF was tasked with transporting the Queen’s coffin on Tuesday evening.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston told Sky News: “It is a C-17 Globemaster which is our strategic airlifter. But on this very sad occasion it will carry Her Majesty’s coffin from Edinburgh to RAF Northolt.

“It’s a heavily used plane – it carried the majority of the 15,000 people we evacuated from Kabul last summer.

“And since then it has been involved in the humanitarian aid airlift and deadly relief node in support of Ukraine.”

Sir Mike said the former monarch, who died last week aged 96, will receive a Royal Guard of Honor of 96 gunners from the Queen’s Color Squadron when he is loaded onto the plane in Edinburgh.

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

The Queen’s Color Squadron, this time also sporting the King’s colors, will then provide another Honor Guard.

A hearse will then take the Queen’s coffin to Buckingham Palace.

“Today is the day we have planned for a long, long time but hoped it would never come,” Sir Mike told BBC Breakfast.

“I will be part of the reception party at RAF Northolt to greet HRH the Princess Royal from the aircraft and then be part of the royal salute as the coffin is placed in the hearse.”

(PA graphic) (PA graphic)

Sir Mike praised the Queen’s interest in new technology, noting that the RAF flew Lancaster and Spitfire aircraft early in her reign.

“As one of the many chiefs she saw during her 70-year rule, (she had) a deep wisdom and interest in geopolitics or interest in today’s technology,” he said.

“And if you look at the technology and their interest in it, again, that speaks to someone who maintained that close affinity and interest to the end.”

Sir Mike said the Queen was “the embodiment of a life of service”.

He told Sky News: “And when we join the armed forces – the navy, the army, the air force – we all try to emulate that service in some way.

“And His Majesty the King, like Her Majesty, comes from a family of servants.

“You know what it’s like to have partners, sons, grandchildren, and grandchildren who are also outreach and serving.

“They understand what it means to be a service family and that’s why Her Majesty has been able to connect with and visit families – talk to them, share and hear their experiences and share some of their own.

“It is a very, very close personal bond with her armed forces and she will be missed very sadly.

“But we stand ready to serve His Majesty the King in the same way.”

Sir Mike added: “Her Majesty the Queen’s father was the first king to receive his Royal Air Force wings, followed by His Majesty the King, followed by the Prince of Wales.

“And the Prince of Wales was a serving search and rescue pilot.

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

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

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

“All things considered, I am still speaking 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 had a successful career as an aviator.”

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