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Beaming Queen jokes Typhoon jets ‘are being sent off to chase the Russians’ as she meets Australian air force officer


THE Queen beamed as she joked that British Typhoon jets are “off to chase the Russians” today.

The monarch, 94, smiled as she shared the quip with an Aussie officer during a ceremony marking the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

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The Queen leaves Windsor Castle on her way to the RAF memorial in Runnymede, Surrey

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The Queen leaves Windsor Castle on her way to the RAF memorial in Runnymede, SurreyCredit: The Sun
The Queen met with RAAF service personnel at today's event

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The Queen met with RAAF service personnel at today’s eventCredit: Steve Reigate Daily Express
During the service the Queen's equerry Major Tom White laid a wreath on her behalf

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During the service the Queen’s equerry Major Tom White laid a wreath on her behalfCredit: Steve Reigate Daily Express
The Queen, seen speaking to RAAF officers, commemorated the 100th year anniversary of the Air Force

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The Queen, seen speaking to RAAF officers, commemorated the 100th year anniversary of the Air ForceCredit: Chris Ship/Twitter
It marks the first time the Queen has been out on an engagement since a private visit to Westminster Abbey for Remembrance Day last November

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It marks the first time the Queen has been out on an engagement since a private visit to Westminster Abbey for Remembrance Day last NovemberCredit: Steve Reigate Daily Express

It’s the first time the Queen has been spotted in public for five months after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s bombshell Oprah interview, as well as the month-long hospitalisation of Prince Philip.

But today she toured the CWGC Air Forces Memorial in Runnymede, Surrey – and said she’s “delighted” to be out on engagements again.

The Queen wore a lime-green hat and matching jacket, with a brooch attached, as she chatted with RAAF service personnel this morning.

She asked one officer if the jets he worked with were “being sent off to chase the Russians”.

He replied: “That’s correct Ma’am.

“It’s a lot of fun for us.”

The British Air Force has, in recent months, intercepted an increasing number of Russian aircraft approaching UK airspace.

It comes against a backdrop of increasing tensions between Moscow and London.

Wednesday’s outing was only the Queen’s fourth engagement outside palace walls since Britain first locked down a year ago, and the first since she visited Westminster Abbey in November.

And it is also the first time she has been seen outside Windsor Castle since the Megxit split and Harry and Meghan’s bombshell Oprah interview.

When the Queen arrived at Runnymede she was greeted by Claire Horton, director general of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and George Brandis, High Commissioner for Australia.

During the service the Queen’s equerry Major Tom White laid a wreath on her behalf.

She also viewed panels bearing the names of Australian war dead and a display of fallen airmen and women in the memorial cloister.

OUT AND ABOUT

The Queen then met with RAAF personnel stationed in the UK, telling one recent arrival: “It’s rather bad luck to have arrived in lockdown isn’t it…

“I hope in the next couple of years you’ll be able to travel a bit more.”

The monarch then signed a commemorative document before departing.

More than 350,000 men and women have served in the RAAF since its formation in 1921, fighting in conflicts ranging from the Second World War to others in Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, with more than 11,100 losing their lives in service.

The event also marks the first time the Queen has been seen outside Windsor Castle since the Megxit split

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The event also marks the first time the Queen has been seen outside Windsor Castle since the Megxit splitCredit: Steve Reigate Daily Express
She signed a commemorative document before departing the event

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She signed a commemorative document before departing the eventCredit: Chris Ship/Twitter
When the Queen arrived at Runnymede she was greeted by George Brandis, High Commissioner for Australia

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When the Queen arrived at Runnymede she was greeted by George Brandis, High Commissioner for AustraliaCredit: Chris Ship/Twitter
Members of the public wave to the monarch as she is driven to the ceremony this morning

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Members of the public wave to the monarch as she is driven to the ceremony this morningCredit: The Sun
The world-famous Red Arrows soared above the Runnymede Air Forces Memorial at Englefield Green

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The world-famous Red Arrows soared above the Runnymede Air Forces Memorial at Englefield GreenCredit: The Sun

The Duke of Cambridge will also mark the centenary with a video message being released later today that reflects on the service, courage and sacrifice made by generations of Royal Australian Air Force men and women.

It will be played at the RAAF centenary dinner being held in the Australian capital Canberra with guests featuring the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison.

The Queen’s visit to the memorial comes just two weeks after Prince Philip was released from hospital after undergoing successful heart surgery.

The Duke of Edinburgh, 99, had been admitted to St Bartholomew’s Hospital hospital on February 17 after feeling unwell.

The duke underwent a successful procedure on a pre-existing heart condition at Barts on March 3, just three months before his 100th birthday, before returning to King Edward VII’s a few days later to recuperate and continue his treatment.

Following his discharge from hospital, the Duke was reunited with the Queen at Windsor Castle and was said to be in “good spirits”.

The Duke of Edinburgh left hospital two weeks ago after undergoing successful heart surgery

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The Duke of Edinburgh left hospital two weeks ago after undergoing successful heart surgeryCredit: AFP
The Queen last appeared in public during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark Remembrance Day on November 4

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The Queen last appeared in public during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark Remembrance Day on November 4Credit: PA
The Queen was pictured riding a pony in the grounds of Windsor last June during the first national lockdown

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The Queen was pictured riding a pony in the grounds of Windsor last June during the first national lockdownCredit: PA:Press Association

The Queen has carried out a number of engagements virtually during the pandemic, with all large gatherings cancelled.

A number of high-profile events have been staged in the grounds of Windsor Castle including a ceremony last summer where the Queen knighted veteran NHS fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore.

She was last seen outside her Berkshire residence in November last year during the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph.

And a few days before that, she wore a face mask in public for the first time during a poignant visit to the grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of his burial.

The Queen has spent lockdown three at Windsor Castle with a loyal band of staff dubbed HMS Bubble. 

She has not been able to see her family since the beginning of December because of the pandemic.

And she had been totally alone during the Duke of Edinburgh’s time in hospital. 

The couple, who have been married for 73 years, also received their first Covid-19 jabs in January.

During Philip’s spell in hospital the Duke and Duchess of Sussex plunged the monarchy into a crisis by accusing a member of the royal family of racism – not the Queen or Philip – and claiming that Meghan received no support with her mental health problems.

The Queen, 94, said in a statement afterwards that the issues are concerning, but that “some recollections may vary” and the matter is a family one that will be dealt with privately.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Cambridge defended the House of Windsor, saying during a recent visit to a school in east London: “We’re very much not a racist family.”

Prince Philip has been by the Queen's side for more than seventy years

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Prince Philip has been by the Queen’s side for more than seventy yearsCredit: AFP
Prince Charles says he is ‘thrilled’ dad Prince Philip is out of hospital





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