With ‘regrets,’ Queen Elizabeth will miss Memphis Belle unveiling in Dayton

The rumor is only partly true.

Queen Elizabeth II was invited to see the unveiling of the iconic B-17 Memphis Belle at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, but she’ll attend a royal wedding in the United Kingdom instead.

An unnamed British citizen invited the queen to Dayton, but Buckingham Palace sent its regrets the royal family won’t be able to attend the May 17 unveiling of the restored World War II bomber once based in England, according to museum spokesman Rob Bardua.

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“An invitation to attend the Memphis Belle exhibit opening was not sent to the Queen Elizabeth II by the museum,” but by the British citizen who has a connection to the museum, Bardua said in an email.

“However, once he received their regrets and Prince Harry’s wedding was scheduled for the same weekend, the museum knew it would no longer be necessary to send a formal invitation,” he added.

Prince Harry will marry American actress Meghan Markle on May 19 in a chapel at Windsor Castle.

The restored World War II plane will be unveiled to the public on the 75th anniversary of its final mission over war ravaged Europe. The bomber — celebrated in two Hollywood films — was the first to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States.

The Royals have a decades-long connection to the Memphis Belle, which was based at Royal Air Force Bassingbourn airfield in England between November 1942 until May 1943. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the crew at the airfield on May 26, 1943.

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In 1987, Queen Elizabeth “warmly endorsed” a Royal Air Force salute to the “Memphis Belle, her brave crew, and all the gallant U.S. airmen who demonstrated so vividly the close alliance between America and Britain,” the museum said.

The Air Force museum at Wright-Patt has in its collection a silver serving set from the queen and the RAF which had been in the officers’ mess at Bassingbourn.

And while secrecy surrounds the new Memphis Belle exhibit until it’s unveiled, the ties between the aircraft, the crew and the Royal family and RAF will be part of the new display.


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