UK & World News

  • 28 June 2014, 22:04

Armed Forces Day: PM And Salmond Attend

Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond have been joining crowds marking the sixth annual Armed Forces Day in Scotland.

Thousands enjoyed piping, parades and a Red Arrow display in Stirling to honour servicemen and women past and present.

The Princess Royal and Labour leader Ed Milibandalso attended as Stirling Castle provided the backdrop to parachute, helicopter and jet displays.

The annual celebration was held close to where Stirlinghas also been marking the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

The two-day event features re-enactments of the legendary clash which saw Robert the Bruce defeat the army of King Edward II in 1314.

Scotland's tourism minister yesterday had to dismiss the possibility that the two events occurring at the same time could be used for political purposes, with Scotland's independence referendum just months away.

Speaking in Stirling, Mr Cameron said: "Stirling has put on an absolutely brilliant show ... but there is a bigger message I think, perhaps, this year, because we can consider what Scotland brings to the UK armed forces and what being part of a bigger entity brings for Scotland as well.

"Scotland has a very proud history. All our nations in the UK have proud histories. But what we decided to do was to come together as a family of nations, and I think we all benefit from being part of that family.

"So yes, of course, we should commemorate and celebrate Bannockburn, but we should also commemorate and celebrate every year what our armed forces do."

Mr Salmondsaid: "It's a fantastic occasion, and great for Stirling with Armed Forces Day and Bannockburn Live in the same weekend. The city of Stirling is the epicentre of events.

"Bannockburn was there first, and it's the 700th anniversary but I don't think that mattered.

"We were happy to support both events. I don't see a conflict at all, and if anyone tried to produce one I think they have been sorely disappointed."

Meanwhile, Saracens rugby stars made a surprise visit to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, to mark Armed Forces Day.

They were shown how the camp and surrounding air routes are defended and in return put on a coaching session.

Flanker Will Fraser said: "I have total respect for the service personnel here who have done this for real with their wounded colleagues on a stretcher."

The Queen honoured First World War veterans on the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, which is widely thought to have sparked the conflict.

The monarch was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London for a Drumhead Service of Remembrance led by the Bishop of London.

Ahead of the Stirling event, a pilot from the Red Arrows posted a remarkable 'selfie' picture on his @RAFRed8 Twitter account.

The image appears to show him flying one of the jets, with another plane visible behind him.

Armed Forces Day was established in 2009 to celebrate the service of Army, Navy and RAF members and their families.

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