27 May 2022 to 8 January 2023

IWM Duxford

Free event with general admission

Throughout her 70-year reign and in the decades before, Her Majesty The Queen has lived through times of conflict, maintaining an enduring relationship with the armed forces and honouring those affected by war at home and across the world.

Marking the Platinum Jubilee this spring, IWM Duxford will present an object trail charting British and Commonwealth aviation during The Queen’s 70-year reign alongside a large-scale projection of recently digitised film from IWM’s archive which traces The Queen’s personal experience of war

As Princess Elizabeth, The Queen’s first public duties were during the Second World War, which broke out when she was 13 years old. Upon joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, she became the first woman in The Royal Family to enlist as a full-time member of the armed services. Since then, The Queen has supported those who serve and veterans of conflict in her role as Head of the Armed Forces, a post that continues a long royal military tradition.

New research into IWM’s photography archive demonstrates just how keenly The Queen’s role as monarch has been shaped by her wartime experiences. This relationship between crown and conflict will be explored through IWM’s collections, bringing human stories to the foreground and providing a unique lens through which to join the national moment.

In IWM Duxford’s AirSpace visitors can get up-close with some of the world’s most famous aircraft. A trail of objects in this hangar will tell the story of British and Commonwealth aviation during The Queen’s 70-year reign, a time marked by unprecedented social, political and technological change.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Ready for take-off

A BAe146 aircraft from A Flight of 32 (The Royal) Squadron taking part in a formation flying exercise high over London.
Crown copyright

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Ready for take-off

The year The Queen acceded the throne was the same year that the world’s first Comets entered service, slashing journey times for passenger aircraft. Visitors to IWM Duxford will be able to see an example of this in a de Havilland Comet 4, which made the very first eastbound trans-Atlantic flight in 1958.

Also, discover a new addition to the British Airliner Collection at IWM Duxford – a BAe 146 aircraft that was used by the Royal Family to travel the world and one of the first jet aircraft in The Queen’s Flight.

*Aircraft of the British Airliner Collection are often open for boarding. Hosted by a member of the Duxford Aviation Society, more details can be found at the Visitor Centre.

Digitised IWM archives

HM The Queen inspecting the Royal Guard of Royal Marines from HMS NEWFOUNDLAND during her visit to the ship. Front Rank: Right to left: Sergeant Balding, of Goodmayes, Essex; Marine Case, of Bridgewater; Marine Wright of Edinburgh. Rear Rank: Right to left: Marine Wintle, of Nottingham (partly out of picture); Marine Pattit of Hull; Marine Nicholls of Derby; Marine Merritt of Deal, Kent; Corporal Burton of Norwich.
© IWM A 32912

Digitised IWM archives

Accompanying the trail at IWM Duxford, a large-scale projection of recently digitised film from IWM’s archive will provide a visual backdrop to the permanent displays of AirSpace.

Presented together for the first time, this footage offers glimpses into the official public duties of The Queen alongside more private moments in her relationship with the armed forces. With a running time of approximately ten minutes, this special display includes a colour sequence of The Queen travelling to her coronation in 1953, attended by British and Commonwealth armed forces, as well as footage of her as a young princess travelling to South Africa on HMS Vanguard in 1947 with her father King George VI, mother Queen Elizabeth, and sister Princess Margaret.

Memorial Tree Planting

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh with members of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association at Buckingham Palace in 2010
© IWM

Memorial Tree Planting

As part of The Queen’s Green Canopy, a nation-wide tree planting initiative created to mark the Platinum Jubilee, two cherry trees have been planted at IWM Duxford. Chosen as a traditional form of remembrance for the fallen servicemen of the Second World War, the blooming of these cherry trees throughout the spring and summer months will act as a permanent reminder of the historic moment of the Platinum Jubilee.

The Royal Family in Wartime

Royal Family in Wartime publication front cover
© IWM

The Royal Family in Wartime

Published 12 May 2022

Showcasing over fifty photographs from IWM’s vast collections, this new publication marking the Platinum Jubilee features several rarely published photographs of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

These images demonstrate – often in vivid colour – how the connection between royalty and the armed forces is so enduring, illustrating the many and varied ways that members of Britain’s Royal Family, from King George V to the Duke of Cambridge, have played their part in wartime over the past century.

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