Wootton Bassett granted 'Royal' status

Wootton Bassett is to be the first town in more than 100 years granted the title "Royal" in recognition of its parades for fallen soldiers, David Cameron has announced.







The Prime Minister confirmed that troop repatriations would no longer happen via the Wiltshire town from September due to the closure of a nearby RAF base.



But he said the Queen had agreed to the tribute as "an enduring symbol of the nation's admiration and our gratitude to the people of that town".



"Their deeply moving and dignified demonstrations of respect and mourning have shown the deep bond between the public and our Armed Forces," Mr Cameron told the Commons.







The Prime Minister made the announcement after making his regular tribute at the start of question time to the most recent military casualty in Afghanistan.



"The town will become Royal Wootton Bassett later this year in a move I believe will be welcomed right across our country."



In a written ministerial statement, Defence Secretary Liam Fox confirmed that repatriation ceremonies for those killed in operational theatres will move from RAF Lyneham to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.



"I would like to thank RAF Lyneham for their excellent work in supporting the important task of repatriation ceremonies," Dr Fox said.



"I am certain that RAF Brize Norton will maintain the standard of solemnity, dignity and respect to our service personnel killed on operations as shown by the personnel at RAF Lyneham.



"I would also like to record publicly my thanks to the people of Wootton Bassett who have chosen to pay their respects in a unique and special way.



"It is such spontaneous public support that captures the spirit of the British people, and I am very grateful for those who have participated.



"Such gestures do not go unnoticed by those deployed on operations."







Mary Champion, Mayor of Wootton Bassett, said: "This is a great honour for our community as the repatriations move away from Wootton Bassett.



"Whilst we have never sought recognition for our simple act of respect I am certain that this will serve to reinforce the pride and gratitude we feel for the members of our armed services who will always be in our thoughts."









Peter Doyle, of Wootton Bassett Town Council, said the honour would be received with "gratitude" by the people of the town and surrounding area.



But he added that the most the town had ever expected was to strengthen the covenant between the British people and their Armed Forces.



"The town has found itself during the course of the repatriations in front of the nation really through an accident of geography due to our proximity to RAF Lyneham," he said.



"I think most people in the town would recognise and hope that any town in a similar situation would have done likewise.



"If we have helped do anything to promote the covenant that people have with our Armed Services and serving personnel then it may serve as an example to other communities - but that was the most reward that anyone in the town ever expected.



"I do not think anyone expected this but nevertheless it will be received with gratitude."







Mr Cameron was urged to lead future tributes to fallen troops in Carterton - the nearest town to Brize Norton - which lies in his Oxfordshire constituency of Witney.



Conservative MP James Gray, whose North Wiltshire constituency includes Wootton Bassett, told the House of Commons: "The people of Wootton Bassett have sought no thanks or praise for what they have done on so many hundreds of occasions, but they will be deeply honoured and very pleased by the honour which Her Majesty has shown them on this occasion."



He asked Mr Cameron: "Will the Prime Minister now lead the people of Carterton in his own constituency in filling the place which they filled?"



Mr Cameron responded that it had been an "honour" for him to announce the royal recognition of the people of Wootton Bassett.



"They did not ask for any recognition, they did not ask for any form of preferment," said the PM. "They just believed that they were honourably and honestly doing a job that the whole country wanted to see done.



"Now that the route is going to be going a different route, we have to look at the issues which (Mr Gray) raises.



"Already there is quite a demonstration of solidarity and support outside the John Radcliffe Hospital (in Oxford). I will certainly bear in mind what he says."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn