The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have become the first dignitaries to fly in the newly-repainted ministerial jet, as they began a brief visit to Germany.
Charles and Camilla stepped from RAF Voyager ahead of attending a ceremony on Sunday marking Germany’s National Day of Mourning – the first time members of the British monarchy will join guests at the country’s remembrance event.
The couple will attend a wreath-laying event at the Neue Wache Memorial, before joining the Central Remembrance Ceremony at the Bundestag, German parliament, where the prince will deliver a speech.
Ahead of the trip, the prince held a telephone meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.
The official Twitter account for Charles and Camilla shared a picture of the prince to mark his 72nd birthday, which he is celebrating on Saturday.
In the autumnal snap, the heir to the throne is wearing a kilt and smiling towards the camera as he stands next to a tree.
A birthday cake was presented to the prince during the flight and shared among his household, and he is expected to mark his milestone privately with Camilla.
Thank you for all the well wishes on The Prince of Wales’s 72nd Birthday! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/qFKjNZkePG
— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) November 14, 2020
Clarence House announced the brief visit to the European nation earlier in the week and said in a statement the couple had been invited by the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The statement added: “The National Day of Mourning will this year focus on the German-British friendship, which has grown in the 75 years since the end of the Second World War.
“The event pays tribute to the Allied commitment to the liberation from Nazi occupation and to the reconstruction, re-democratisation and subsequent reunification of Germany.
“It remembers all victims of war and tyranny.”
The once-grey RAF Voyager has been resprayed at a cost of almost £1 million in white, with a Union flag on the tailfin and United Kingdom written in gold on the fuselage.
An RAF spokesman confirmed the prince and his wife were the first VIPs to use the plane since its makeover.
He added: “Since its livery was updated, the VIP Voyager has continued to operate as part of the RAF’s Air to Air Refuelling fleet, supporting operations and training. As air travel begins to return to normal, the aircraft will also be used for VIP flights.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously complained about the military paint scheme used on the jet.
When not carrying ministers and members of the royal family on official foreign trips the plane, based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, acts as a “petrol station in the sky” flying air-to-air refuelling operations.