British repatriation town receives royal honour

16th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Wootton Bassett, the British town which became a focal point for honouring soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, was Sunday officially renamed with the prefix "Royal" in recognition of its efforts.

Thousands lined the streets of the town in Wiltshire, southwest England, as Princess Anne handed over the Letters Patent on behalf of the queen.

Prime Minister David Cameron and new Defence Secretary Philip Hammond were present to witness Wootton Bassett become the first town in over a century to be granted a royal title.

The sleepy town became known round the world for the dignified manner in which its residents lined the high street as a mark of respect to the British Army dead from Iraq and Afghanistan as the hearses passed bearing their bodies.

Former Wootton Bassett mayor Steve Bucknell led a one minute's silence to honour the fallen soldiers.

Princess Anne praised the town's resolute spirit during an address to the crowd.

"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.

The town's first repatriation service took place in 2007 and the last in August of this year after RAF base Brize Norton was chosen to become the new landing site for planes returning from conflict zones.

© 2011 AFP

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