Children from nearby schools lined the roads leading to the camp gates, waving flags as preparing children for sport car arrived at the base. The Queen is presented with a posy of flowers by children from Cherry Tree Academy Credit: Ministry of Defence. RAF Marham, which has been the home of the Tornado GR4 Force, will welcome the F-35 Lightning Force next summer.
While there, the Queen officially opened the new Lightning Operations Centre. It is the first building completed as part of a development scheme building the infrastructure needed to support the new jets. The Queen officially opened the new Lightning Operations Centre Credit: Ministry of Defence. I’m delighted The Queen has seen what the future holds for the Royal Air Force, particularly as we celebrate a rich 100-year history of brave men and women protecting our skies. The Queen presenting the Firmin Sword of Peace to Group Captain Townsend Credit: Ministry of Defence. The Queen also met a number of serving personnel during visits to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess.
She later presented the Firmin Sword of Peace to RAF Marham’s station commander, Group Captain Townsend. The award recognises a unit that has been judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian activities. Marham received the sword following its work in 2016 in Syria and Iraq, as well as with communities closer to home. Nowruz is a rite dating back to at least the 6th century BCE, marking the new year and ushering in spring. Variously known as Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz or Nevruz, this historic rite is observed on 21 March in many countries along the Silk Roads, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Nowruz is celebrated by peoples of many different religions and cultures across this vast region. Some of the festival’s earliest origins lie in Zoroastrianism, marking one of the holiest days in the ancient Zoroastrian calendar.
The return of the spring was seen to have great spiritual significance, symbolising the triumph of good over evil and joy over sorrow. Nowruz is also associated with a great variety of local traditions, including the legend of Jamshid, a king in Persian mythology. To this day in Iran, Nowruz celebrations are sometimes known as Nowruze Jamshidi. According to the myth, Jamshid was carried through the air in a chariot, a feat that so amazed his subjects that they established a festival on that day.
On the day of Nowruz, there is much feasting, visiting family members and friends, and exchanging gifts. A wide range of cultural performances and traditions also take place. Children are often given small toys, and traditionally play with colourfully painted eggs. Families and within communities share a symbolic meal, often consisting of cooked rice and vegetables combined with many local ingredients. One widespread tradition is the preparation of a Nowruz table, on which a number of symbolic objects are placed. These objects symbolise purity, brightness, abundance, happiness and fertility for the new year.