LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II has sent congratulations to Britain's Royal Air Force on the 100th anniversary of its founding.

The queen's message was read at a breakfast reception held Sunday at a central London building that served as the RAF's first headquarters.

The Royal Air Force was created on April 1, 1918 through the merger of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

Its reputation is strongly associated with the extraordinary bravery and skill of the pilots who defended Britain against Germany's Luftwaffe during World War II.

Elizabeth said in her anniversary wishes that the RAF has "defended our freedom gallantly."

Top air force officers attended the reception, but the job of reading the queen's message fell to 16-year-old Aircraftsman Adam Wood, one of the RAF's youngest members.