Published 17 October 2018

The Queen as Patron of the Royal Air Force Club visited the Club's premises on Piccadilly, London to mark its centenary year.

The RAF Club. which is open to former and serving officers of the Royal Air Force, was founded in 1918 and formally opened its doors in 1922. On 12 March 1922, the Club was visited by King George V and Queen Mary.

The Queen has been Patron of the Club since 1952, and during the visit Her Majesty opened the new wing, which houses amenities including a fitness suite and business centre.

Following a tour of the Club, The Queen unveiled a new stained-glass window, which was designed to commemorate women in the Royal Air Force. The new artwork has been created by artist and designer Helen Whittaker, and aims to highlight the development of female roles in the RAF over its 100 years.

Her Majesty was able to meet some female representatives from the RAF, including Jo Salter, who was Britain's first female fast jet pilot, who flew Tornado's with 617 Squadron.

The visit then finished with an unveiling of a new portrait of The Queen that been commissioned to celebrate the Club's 100th Birthday. Started in February 2018 and set in the White Drawing Room of Windsor Castle, the portrait was painted by Benjamin Sullivan – who won the BP Portrait Award in 2017.

The portrait includes a number of RAF elements: in the background is a Spitfire – ‘S’ for ‘Strike’ - from 253 Squadron from which the artist's grandfather, F/Lt JM Sullivan, flew over Albania during WW2. The image on the right is a portion of ‘Hurricanes in Flight‘ (1944), by Eric Ravilous, painted as part of his work for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee. Ravilous lived and worked near Benjamin Sullivan, and in the 1930’s, as a member of the Great Bardfield Artists, whose body of work is now housed at the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden.

portrait of The Queen by Benjamin Sullivan