Camilla Formally Names New Aircraft Carrier

8 September 2017, 15:09


The UK's second of a new generation of aircraft carriers has been formally named after the Prince of Wales, signalling "a new era" in the Royal Navy's history.

Work on the under-construction ship was halted for the naval tradition which dates back thousands of years and combines a celebration with a solemn blessing.

The official naming was carried out by the Duchess of Cornwall, the ship's sponsor, who smashed a bottle of whisky against HMS Prince of Wales at the ceremony in Rosyth Dockyard, Fife.

Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, looked on as Camilla carried out the honours in the shadow of the 65,000-tonne carrier.

Camilla, who has the title of Duchess of Rothesay, pressed a button to trigger the smashing of a bottle of Laphroaig 10-year-old spirit against the ship's hull.

The Islay distillery holds a Royal Warrant and the single malt is believed to be one of Charles' favourites.

She declared: "I name this ship Prince of Wales. May God bless her and all who sail in her."

The Duchess spoke of her pride in her own personal connections with the Royal Navy, which include being Commodore-in-Chief of its medical and chaplaincy services and boasting six Admirals among her ancestors.

"Naturally, however, my closest connection with our great Navy is through another Admiral, my husband, another Prince of Wales. So I already feel a particular affection for this ship," Camilla told hundreds in the assembled crowd.

"When she and her ship's company are out on the high seas, please remember that I will be holding you all in my thoughts and prayers.

"I am certain that you will carry out whatever is asked of you with the pride that comes of being at the forefront of our Naval prowess."

Six shipyards across the UK - Appledore, Birkenhead, Govan, Portsmouth, Rosyth and Tyne - have worked together to design and build the carrier and its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was the first aircraft carrier to be built in the programme and set sail from Rosyth this summer.

With a crew of 679, HMS Prince of Wales is expected to carry out sea trials in 2019 before entering Royal Navy service, with those working on the 280-metre carrier saying lessons have been learned in the construction of the first flagship.

The pair are termed Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and are being built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), a partnership of BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence.

"Not only do they represent an extraordinary achievement, but also a new era in our long Naval history," Camilla said.

She wore a navy blue Fiona Clare dress and coat and a Philip Treacy hat for the occasion, while Charles - Admiral of the Fleet - sported a Royal Navy uniform with medals.

The royals were joined at the event by UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Scottish Economy Secretary Keith Brown.

Those behind the project, which costs an estimated £6.2 billion overall, say the QE Class will be the centrepiece of Britain's naval capability with an aircraft carrier permanently available to be deployed anywhere in the world in military or humanitarian action.

Sir Michael said: "Together these magnificent carriers will act as our statement to the world. By having two we will ensure the UK will be one of the few nations able to maintain a continuous carrier strike presence on the high seas to project our power across the world."

Mr Brown said: "With their proud shipbuilding history, it is fitting that the yards on the Clyde and at Rosyth could play such a pivotal role in the construction of this massive vessel and of course, its sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

"The expertise that went into the design, engineering and build of this vessel is a testament to our shipbuilding capabilities in Scotland."