The Queen heard at first hand today how a Norfolk air base sprearheaded operations in Libya.

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Tornado crews from RAF Marham took to the skies just hours after world leaders decided to use force to protect civilians from Col Gaddafi’s army.

They flew the longest sorties since the 1982 Falklands War to attack Libyan air defences, before hunting down the dictator’s tanks and armoured vehicles.

The Queen, who is Honorary Air Commodore of Marham, spoke with members of IX (B) Squadron who were involved in the early stages of the operation, in March 2011.

She then moved to to the Tactical Imagery-Intelligence Wing and was shown state-of-the-art technology that was used to provide world class intelligence over Libya. The Queen was then introduced to Wing Commander Nick Tucker-Lowe, commanding officer of II(AC) Sqn, who were based at Gioia Del Colle, in Italy, as the international operation continued.

After viewing a Tornado and its weapon payload, the Queen was then introduced to the Community Support and Welfare teams who supported the families in Norfolk whilst their loved ones were deployed.

Airdog ‘Torres’ seemed singularly unaffected by the Royal presence, using the opportunity to have a big yawn.

As the Queen exited the hangar the children of Marham Infants School sang a song and presented her with a spring bouquet.

On arrival at the Officers Mess, she was received by the president of the mess, Sqn Ldr Charlie Donald and the chairman of the Senior NCOs’ Mess, Warrant Officer Dave Honour.

The Queen attended an all ranks reception before taking lunch with a cross section of RAF Marham personnel.

Afterwards, she sat for a commemorative photo with the station executive and warrant officers before signing the visitors’ book.

As the Queen departed RAF Marham she was waved off by dozens of local school children who had waited by the Main Gate to catch a glimpse of the Monarch as she begins her Diamond Jubilee year.

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