Armed Forces’ 21 gun salute in Hillsborough for Queen’s birthday

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Members of the Armed Forces in Northern Ireland have been sending birthday wishes to HM The Queen in their own unique way.

While the main focus has been the firing of a 21 gun salute at Hillsborough Castle by members of Queens University Officer Training Corps other units including air crew and ground staff at Aldergrove as well as Royal Navy reserves with HMS Hibernia have been sending best wishes.

One of the more unusual tributes has been from the Royal Irish Regiment where members of the 2nd Battalion recorded a Happy Birthday video packaged with recordings by soldiers from Scotland, England and Wales and posted across social media.

At Hillsborough Castle, under the watchful eyes of the “Ulster’s Gunners” from the Royal Artillery members of Queens University Officer Training Corps were given the honour of firing the special 21 Gun Salute at the same time as Gun Salutes in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

All members of Queen’s University Officer Training Corps are undergraduate or postgraduate students at universities or colleges in NI and as members of the Army Reserve are paid while on duty.

Whilst under no obligation to join the Armed Forces after leaving university, the UOTC gives young people opportunities for leadership development as well as adventurous training and social activities.

For those studying at Queen’s it offers a chance to obtain the Degree Plus Award and for those at the University of Ulster, the Edge Award, which recognise extracurricular activities.

The UOTC is the only group within Queen’s and Ulster Universities that is a Licensed Organisation of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, offering student Officer Cadets the opportunity to complete their Silver or Gold Award if they had not been able to do it at school.

A spokesman for Queen’s UOTC said: “It is an honour and a privilege for our Officer Cadets to fire the Royal Salute at Hillsborough Castle on such a momentous and memorable occasion as Her Majesty’s actual 90th birthday.”

The NI Gun Salutes are normally under the remit of 206 (Ulster) Battery Royal Artillery using the L118 Light Gun with a range of almost 20 kilometres.