The Prince of Wales talks to portrait sitter RAF veteran Flight Lieutenant WLB Walker by a portrait of Walker by Stuart Pearson from the Prince's Drawing School
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall joined Battle of Britain veterans and their families at a service of thanksgiving today.
A Spitfire and a Hurricane flew high above London's Westminster Abbey to commemorate the battle, one of the turning points of the Second World War.
Some 544 Royal Air Force pilots were killed in the bitter struggle to save the UK from invasion. Of the events, Winston Churchill famously declared: "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed - by so many - to so few".
The annual service marked the nation's gratitude for the pilots and aircrew of the RAF who prevented Germany from gaining air superiority in the summer and autumn of 1940.
The Battle of Britain Roll of Honour was escorted to the Sacrarium by airmen who had fought in the battle, and prayers were said for those currently serving in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the South Atlantic.
Chaplain in Chief Raymond Pentland told the congregation: "If our Olympians and Paralympians, of who we are rightly so proud, held the hope of our nation, then those men, the Few, held the hope of the world."
He added: "The Few inspired the world then and surely inspire us now."
The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, greeted The Prince and Duchess as they arrived at the Abbey.
Speaking after the service, he said: "It's very important from the point of view of passing on the message to the next generation of what these men did in terms of serving their country, their commitment and their courage.
"Today's young men and women also want to serve their country. This is to make sure they understand why this is like a flame, a torch, that is handed on from one generation to another just like the Olympic flame was passed on this year.
"That is the same concept of passing the spirit and the ethos onto the next generation."
The Prince, Marshal of the RAF, wore full ceremonial uniform, while The Duchess wore a nude Anna Valentine dress and a co-ordinating hat by Philip Treacy.
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond also attended the service.
Wing Commander Tom Neil, 92, was a Pilot Officer during the Battle of Britain flying Hurricanes. Mr Neil, from Thwaite St Mary, near Norwich, said: "I probably flew in the Battle of Britain more than any other person. In 15 weeks I flew 141 times against the enemy.
"I was very good at ducking and weaving like a boxer. I was hit a number of times but I wasn't really shot down nastily.
"I was very fortunate."
Squadron Leader Tony Pickering, also a Hurricane pilot in 1940, recalled the dogfights of the battle. "I was 19-years-old. We were enthusiastic and keen, probably too keen.
"Our job was to stop the bombers. We'd go into them head on, firing our guns. Bits and pieces would fly off them and down they'd go."
Mr Pickering, 92, from Rugby, Warwickshire, added: "We had to stop the Germans from landing their troops in Britain. That's why we're remembered, because we stopped Hitler."
After the service Their Royal Highnesses viewed an exhibition of portraits of surviving Battle of Britain veterans.