The Land of Hope and Glory Collection tells the story of Britain through the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In the final instalment of the series, we will revisit some of the important events that have happened during Her Majesty’s reign in the past three decades.
Fire at Windsor Castle
On the 20th November, 1992 a terrible fire took place at Windsor Castle, the magnificent building Her Majesty the Queen calls home for most of her private weekends and one month a year over Easter.
Maintenance work was being carried out in the Castle at the time when a faulty spotlight overheated leading to it igniting. A nearby curtain took hold of the heat, lighting up in flames.
The fire spread dramatically.
Luckily, due to the work being carried out, much of the furniture which would have been near when the fire started, had already been removed to create space. This meant that a lot of possessions that would have been completely destroyed, were safely tucked away somewhere else.
Those working in the Castle, along with soldiers and members of the Royal family, all formed a human chain to pass items along out of the building. As such this meant that 300 clocks, historic manuscripts, thousands of valuable books, a forty-six-meter-long table, thirty-seven-meter-long carpet, and a collection of miniatures were all rescued.
Help quickly arrived and all together 1.5 million gallons (6,750 tons) of water from the mains water supply, a reservoir fire hydrant, a swimming pool, a pond, and the nearby River Thames were used to stop the fire.
After five years the Castle was returned to its former glory and remains open to the public throughout the year — continuing its 900 years of history today.
Channel Tunnel Opens
The American Society of Civil Engineers described this as one of the “seven wonders of the world” in 1996. Connecting Britain and the European mainland for the first time ever since the Ice Age, The Channel Tunnel reduced travel time between England and France to a mere thirty-five minutes. At the height of its construction fifteen thousand people were employed and eleven boring machines used. One boring machine is as long as two two football pitches, and all eleven together weighed an enormous twelve thousand tones.
Interestingly, one remains buried under the Channel and another was sold on eBay in 2004 for £39,999!
Her Majesty travelled from Waterloo to Calais on the 6th May, 1994 at a speed of 80 pmh. She joined President Mitterrand, who had travelled from Paris at 186 mph and together they officially opened the Channel, cutting red, white and blue ribbons to the sound of each’s national anthems.
The Angel of the North is constructed
Standing at an impressive sixty-five feet, the impressive Angel of the North is the height of four double decker buses!
In 1994, when winning artist Antony Gormley’s designs were revealed, the public were not too happy with the plans. Causing uproar, materials put forward were frowned upon, along with the size and magnitude of the sculpture in such an open and unlikely place.
However, many years on, those that live near have fallen in love with it. It has become a site of pleasure and this year celebrates its 24th birthday. Made from steel and a small amount of cooper, the Angel is meant to last for more than one hundred years. Coppers slows the erosion of the steel, and the materials together are quite malleable and can be easily manipulated into a variety of shapes and forms. The Angel of the North cost £800,000 to build and is seen by more than one person every second. It represents the history behind the site, societies future and our transition from the industrial age to the information age. An evolving sculpture to evolve with us.
The Millennium Fireworks
The millennium fireworks marked the movement into a new decade. Celebrations were held up and down the United Kingdom, with something for everyone to take part in, and crowds of more than two million took to London.
An incredible firework display took place by the River Thames. Outside of the UK, events were coordinated around the world to see in the new millennium, including an outdoor concert in Washington, United States.
On the Tower Bridge of London Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II lit a laser which shot fire across the river to the national beacon. This beacon took hold of the fire, signalling the embrace of a new century. Soon after, beacons across the UK all became lit, uniting everyone across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Her Majesty also attended the Millennium Dome in Greenwich which held a special concert.
Birth of Prince George
In 2012, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced that they were expecting their first child. This child would become third in line to the throne and would become a future monarch of the United Kingdom. On 22nd July 2013, Prince George was born at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.
Prior to his birth the Queen made some changes which impacted the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701). A new Crown Act (2013) was brought into force which essentially put an end to a younger son displacing an elder daughter in the line of succession to the throne. Prince George is the first to have been born under this act. You can find out more about the line of succession here >>
As is tradition with any Royal birth, the announcement was placed on the easel outside Buckingham Palace. Along with this, many celebrated up and down the commonwealth countries, and certain water features across the globe were illuminated in blue.
This instalment marks the last in our Britain through the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II blog series. We hope you have enjoyed travelling back with us through the different decades as much as we have.
If you’re interested…
The Land of Hope and Glory Collection celebrates Britain through the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. And today, you can start the collection of a Lifetime. Click here to secure the Coronation Medal for FREE >>
Revisit the historic moments that have shaped Britain through the reign of Queen Elizabeth II with our Land of Hope and Glory blog series:
Today, we had the honour of meeting all 9 Red Arrows pilots at the Bournemouth Air Festival to present them with a very special gift…
Karen & Alex had the pleasure of personally presenting them with a 5oz of Pure Silver commemorative medal featuring each of their 9 signatures carefully engraved onto it.
Officially licensed and approved by the Royal Air Force and the team who helped us create this superb piece, just 450 have been issued worldwide and we reserved issue number 1 of 450 of these pieces to present to them today (and, so they didn’t have to share, we also presented them with a Red Arrows 2017 Display Season Medal each).
Each signature on the 5oz Silver Medal is meticulously engraved above their team number. Then to complete the piece, each member’s iconic Hawk jet with the RAF roundel at the centre is highlighted in vivid colour, surrounded by an altimeter inspired pattern – the most fitting piece to present to the Reds today. (Details below on how you can own one.)
It’s not the first time The Westminster Collection has had the chance to chat to one of the Red Arrows – in fact you can find out if being a Red Arrow is just like being in Top Gun straight from Red 9 himself in our previous blog here >>
You have the opportunity to own the official Red Arrows Signature 5oz Silver Medal. This is a rare chance to own an item so closely and personally linked to the Red Arrows themselves and we only have a few remaining so you’ll have to act quickly to secure yours. Click here for more information and to order yours now >>
Today we are excited to announce the brand new Red Arrows commemorative. It’s the FIRST EVER Collector’s Ingot to be officially licensed and approved by the Red Arrows and features a stunning full-colour photograph of the Red Arrows in their famous Enid formation – taken by aviation photographer James Biggadike.
In the build up to this exciting release and the 2017 Red Arrows display season Flight Lieutenant Emmet Cox, a.k.a. Red 9, gave us an exclusive interview telling us what it’s really like to be part of the world renowned Red Arrows. I revealed part one of the interview in my last blog (If you missed the first half of the interview you can read it here >>). Now, in part 2, Red 9 tells us just how hard it is to be a Red Arrows pilot…
How long does it take to prepare the display and train to public display level?
“It is a year-round job. We take a couple of weeks off after the season finishes and then it’s straight back into it. Typically, we incorporate the new pilots in small formations of three aircraft from September and, as experience grows, we add more to make it a five then a seven-aircraft formation and eventually the full nine, which normally happens late February/early March. Once the nine are together, we spend most of March and April in Greece to put the ‘polish’ on the show and take advantage of the good weather. So you can see it takes well over half the year to get the display to a standard that we are happy to show to the public.”
“Each person has their own way of preparing”
What happens if one pilot is unable to take part in the display? Do you have reserve pilots?
“We have no reserves in the Red Arrows. The positions are too specialised and it would be next to impossible for one individual to remember and perform to the level required for all the different positions. We do, however, rehearse ‘loser plots’ where minor shape or smoke alterations are carried out to cater for a missing aircraft.”
Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do before each display?
“The way we prepare for a sortie is very procedural, starting with a time check and then a briefing in a certain format. Each person is different and has their own way of preparing, such as mentally rehearsing, visualising the upcoming show or carrying points forward from the previous show.”
“The flying is incredible”
What’s the best thing about being a Red Arrow?
“The flying is incredible and there are few other places in the world where you have the opportunity to perform the aircraft in such a manner. The people are also what makes the job; to work alongside such a talented, focused group, whether it is the aircrew, engineers or support staff it makes it a thoroughly enjoyable experience.”
How does the Hawk T1 compare to other fast jets you’ve flown?
“The Hawk T1 is often referred to as the sports car of the RAF’s fast-jet inventory, its small size and simple avionics make it a real pilot’s aircraft. Compared to something like the Tornado GR4 there are few similarities – the Tornado is far bigger, carries more fuel, has more complex avionics and is more focused on weapons employment. Its stick and controls are heavier, the cockpit itself is far bigger and it is surprisingly quiet inside.”
“To put the red suit on for the first time…is a very special moment”
What has been your proudest moment as a Red Arrow?
“To put the red suit on for the first time after being awarded Public Display Authority is a very special moment. You are only a custodian of the red suit for a short time and when you put it on you realise the history and responsibility that comes with it – to represent not only the RAF and the armed forces but the UK as a whole, I could only imagine it feels similar to representing your nation in a sport.”
If you are as excited as I am to see the 2017 Red Arrows display make sure to catch them at an air show this summer. Their full display schedule can be found here >>
Let us know in the comments if you’ve already seen them this year!