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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions