Wootton Bassett given Royal prefix by the Princess Royal


The Princess Royal presented the Letters Patent on behalf of the Queen as thousands cheered

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Wootton Bassett has been officially renamed with the prefix "Royal" in a ceremony in the Wiltshire town.

Thousands of people gathered for the ceremony, during which the Princess Royal presented the Letters Patent on behalf of the Queen.

The move recognises the role the town played during the repatriation of UK military personnel killed in war.

The event was attended by David Cameron and the new Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

It is the first time since 1909 that a town has been granted a royal title.

At the start of the ceremony, former mayor of Wootton Bassett Steve Bucknell led a minute's silence to remember service personnel who have been killed.

Princess Anne: "This community has come together in the most extraordinary way"

Speaking at the ceremony Princess Anne paid tribute to the residents and said the community had come together in a most extraordinary way.

"I am privileged to be allowed to add my thanks to those of Her Majesty the Queen and the whole country for the example you set in responding with dignity and respect to the losses that this country, operational responsibilities have forced upon us," she said.

Earlier the princess was received by the Lord Lieutenant, John Bush, before touring an exhibition in the town's library and watching a parade through the town's High Street.

Wootton Bassett gained fame as its residents stood quietly showing respect for fallen servicemen whose bodies were driven through the town.

The decision to rename it Royal Wootton Bassett was taken by the Queen following a petition from the prime minister.

'Special day'

Mr Cameron stood alongside Mr Hammond, who was attending in his first official engagement since taking over the role from Liam Fox on Friday.

Also there was the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Peter Wall.

Union flag on a building in Royal Wootton Bassett Many people watched Sunday's ceremony from buildings overlooking the town's high street

The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, Collingwood, were marching to a piece of music entitled Wootton Bassett, written by Capt Pete Curtis, a Royal Marines director of music.

Flypasts of a C-17 Globemaster and a C130 Hercules took place over the town. A Vulcan bomber was also due to fly over.

A peal of bells, especially written for the occasion, was sounded at the town's church of St Bartholemew.

The first repatriation service took place in Wootton Bassett in April 2007 when the bodies of military personnel began arriving at the nearby RAF base at Lyneham.

Since then thousands of people have turned out to pay their respects to servicemen killed in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The last cortege passed through the town in August, after which RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire became the landing site for planes returning from conflict zones.

The last town to be given royal status was Tunbridge Wells in Kent, in 1909.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    They should have left Royal Wootton Bassett and RAF Lyneham as the official repatriation centre for British fallen heroes. No one could match the feeling of sorrow and yet a proud feeling that this town gave to the UK. Thank you ROYAL WOOTTON BASSETT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    It is such a shame that this absolutely indefatigable village with its sincere and wonderful citizens, must rely on being annointed by the unelected, dynastic Windsor family, its members presenting themselves to the world as icons of armed aggression and imperial militarism generally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    we commemorate their award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence!

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    I suppose its a good thing.

    I'm sure the regular Afghans will have similar ceremonies; the Americans, Iraqis, the Taliban, and every other fighting force going right back to ancient tribes killing each other over sheep and having heroic ceremonies to mark their dead.

    As long as people realise this and don't get too caught up in all this single dripping tear, heroic "our boys" nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    The BBC is providing live coverage of today's unveiling of the royal letters patent affixing the title Royal to Wootton Bassett. Shouldn't BBC Weather help mark this by Replacing Swindon on today's weather map with Royal Wootton Bassett? The marker is already in much the right place as Royal Wootton Bassett lies only 6 miles to the South West of Swindon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Never confuse the soldier with the war.

    When you sign up, you sign up to protect the people of the country with your life. Some of the wars you may not agree with, and some of the people you're protecting don't particularly deserve it.

    Having given your pledge, you just do it. RWB respected that. It's just a shame this came from a petition, instead of someone in power realising it was right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    well deserved. They showed our soldiers the respect they deserve. Well done to the people of Royal Wooten Bassett

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    As much as I applaud the efforts of the people of W.B. over the past 4 years, the addition of 'Royal' does not alter anything one iota.
    Consider the Beatles receving knighthoods.
    Furthermore, why is it costing the town council £65k to stage this ceremony.
    Surely the money could have seen better use had it been channeled into assisting the bereaved families & the maimed servicemen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    "Unknown soldier, I respect you for dying doing a noble thing fighting for your country" - isn't that the message?
    It wasn't "I respect you just because your dead", the context was crucial.
    So how can those parades not have been support for military service and of the nobility of dying for your country?
    If they died doing a good thing, doesn't that say the wars were good, or "righteous"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Some of the comments on here are just unbelievable and show a complete lack of respect to the fallen and Wootton Bassett.

    Some of the stories coming out of Afghanistan are truly awful and shows this isn't a war for oil, like the 6 year old boy who was hung by the Taliban because he spoke to some troops.

    I hope the people who made such ridiculous comments are proud of themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    This recognition of the people of Wootton Bassett is well-deserved, for their unflinching execution of a grim duty on behalf of us all.

    It saddens me, however, that HM.Queen Elizabeth was unable to confer this honour in person.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    This message goes to the people of Wootton Bassett, you thoroughly deserve the Royal title that your town now has, from someone who has watched the TV footage as you have lined the High Street to pay respect to our fallen heroes can't help but have been moved to tears by the support that you have shown the families of dead servicemen, can only say one big thank you! Enjoy the renaming ceremony!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    I am ex Royal Navy, so I served my country. I stand and salute the people of this fine town for showing everyone what it means to be British and proud. You stood there in your thousands on each and every occasion, honouring our fallen heroes as they passed by. Well, Today is your day. And as Vulcan XH558 passes noisily overhead in salute, your country honours YOU. Thank you Royal Wootton Bassett.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    We salute you Royal Wootton Bassett

    and all the service people who have passed through, you did your duty and paid the ultimate price, something we cannot repay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Royal Wootton Basset stood in respect to our fallen representing the whole nation and I would like to thank them. The award is well deserved. Living some 500 miles away it was not possible for me to join them in person, but I shared their feelings and feel deep gratitude for what they did for us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    A great and timely honour to the people of Royal Wootton Bassett, who on behalf of us all, turned out to show respect to the fallen which in turn gave comfort to the families. No one forced them to do it, they gave their love and respect, freely and without reward.

    The prefix `Royal` is an acknowledgement,from the nation, of the work they did.

    Well deserved indeed

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    I am ex Royal Navy, so I served my country. I stand and salute the people of this fine town for showing everyone what it means to be British and proud. You stood there in your thousands on each and every occasion, honouring our fallen heroes as they passed by. Well, Today is your day. And as Vulcan XH558 passes noisily overhead in salute, your country honours YOU. Thank you Royal Wooton Bassett...

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    what a tragic acknowlagement, the needless loss of life, i am not sure that adding ROYAL to a towns name , is recompence for the loss the familys have suffered.
    lets just stop the war and no more people or towns will have to be re-named.
    i am only left with sadness from this artical...

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    and, before anyone asks, yes - I'm ex-army and I lost good friends in the Falklands. I respect remembrance day - for those that fell on both sides in the past. I also, however, remember the fact that the greatest cause of war and suffering for well over 1,000 years is religion, from the Crusades to Afganistan via Northern Ireland....

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    @ 116.PaulC - showing respect for those who choose to give the ultimate sacrifice for our nation is not "Glorifying war" - in fact publicising the deaths and injuries is possibly the best thing we can do to prevent it - remind everyone the cost.

    Supporting and respecting the troops is not the different to supporting and agreeing with the mission.


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