By Oliver Farrimond
EDINBURGH joined a host of cities nationwide yesterday in raising a flag to honour the UK’s armed forces.
The ceremony, attended by senior military officials and Lord Provost George Grubb, marks the start of a packed week of events to honour armed forces past, present and future.
The flag will be on display at the Capital’s city chambers until this Saturday (27 June), when the city will play host to a parachute drop, an RAF Nimrod fly-by with a tank-led parade to follow on 4 July.
Respectful crowds gathered to watch the ceremony, which saw the flag hoisted above the chambers accompanied by traditional Scottish pipers.
Lord Provost George Grubb said: “Here in Edinburgh, we will be honouring our armed forces with a fantastic day for the whole family to take part in, watch and enjoy.
“Our military forces, both past and present, need our continued support and gratitude for the risks they take to keep us safe – sending people to war is a huge responsibility and remembering them when they return is just as important.
“The services are really overstretched at the moment, and it’s important to highlight how significant their sacrifices are to society.”
The event comes as many British forces are returning from active service, including the famous Royal Scots Dragoon Guard, as military operations in Iraq are scaled down.
Brigadier David Allfrey, commander of 51 Scottish Brigade, attended the ceremony and said: “All three armed services still have a number of comrades who are serving abroad in 30 countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This is an opportunity for us to remember all of them while they’re away and of course for members of the armed services to get together back at home.
“Scotland has a great military history, and this is a perfect moment for Scots to recognise and celebrate the armed forces.”
The celebrations were officially launched last week by honourary Black Watch cadet Colonel Lorraine Kelly, who almost gave soldiers a little more than they bargained for after riding in a Challenger II tank.
The much-loved GMTV presenter flashed her knickers while clambering off the tank, but despite the faux-pas has received rave reviews for her performance so far as the public face of the renowned regiment.