Queen unveils memorial to Bomber Command

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The day after she made one symbolic gesture – a handshake with the former IRA leader Martin McGuinnessthe Queen was applying balm to another historic wound.

Alongside other senior members of the royal family, she attended the dedication of a memorial in Portland stone to Bomber Command and the unveiling of the 9-foot-high bronze sculpture at its heart – seven airmen gazing at a horizon from which their comrades would never return.

A decade ago, the ceremony in London's Green Park might have seemed just as unthinkable as rapprochement with Sinn Féin.

The courage of the then young men who believed they were striking at the heart of the German war machine during the second world war was tarnished by post-war angst about the ethics of bombing civilians. Half a million died in the raids that old men remembered on Thursday....

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