The Duchess of Cornwall to Attend Official Commissioning Ceremony of HMS Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Victoria Park and the Patti Pavilion for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Swansea's City status, granted to the city in 1969 following the Prince's investiture as Prince of Wales.


Tuesday 10th December 2019

The Duchess of Cornwall, Ship’s Sponsor, accompanied by The Prince of Wales, will attend the official Commissioning Ceremony of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth.

Their Royal Highnesses will arrive at Victory Jetty and use the gangway to board the ship. Her Royal Highness will be escorted by Commanding Officer Captain Darren Houston, and His Royal Highness by the Commander of HMS Prince of Wales, Commander Dan Thomas who will great TRHs on the jetty.

Their Royal Highnesses will enter the ship in the central Aircraft Hangar where the Commissioning Ceremony will take place, led by the Chaplain of the Fleet. Their Royal Highnesses will receive the Royal Salute from the Guard of Honour before the National Anthem is played by the Band of the Royal Marines. The Duchess will then inspect the front rank of the Royal Guard which is made up of the Ship’s Company and The Prince will inspect the rear rank, before returning to a dais.

The Commanding Officer will read the Commissioning Warrant and the White Ensign will be hoisted for the first time on the Flight Deck (this will be broadcast on large screens down in the hangar). Her Royal Highness will then address the 3,000 guests gathered for the ceremony, followed by an address by Captain Houston. The final part of the ceremony, in accordance with naval tradition, will see the Commanding Officer’s partner and the youngest member of the ship’s company cut the Commissioning Cake made by Royal Navy chefs.

Following the ceremony Their Royal Highnesses will join a reception and meet with members of the ship’s company and contractors involved in the shipbuilding. Following the reception, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will meet chefs who created the Commissioning Cake and stewards who organised the reception before signing the visitors’ book.

HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Prince of Wales is the second of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, and the sister ship of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The 65,000-tonne ship arrived into Portsmouth for the first time last month, following a series of sea trials after setting sail from the Firth of Forth in September. The Commissioning Ceremony will mark the ship’s acceptance into the Royal Navy Fleet, marked by the hoisting of the White Ensign (flag) for the first time.

HMS Prince of Wales’ crew will have an expansive range of skills and will be able to meet the widest range of tasks around the world, including humanitarian relief maritime security operations and warfighting.

Facts & figures:

  • A crew of at least 700 will serve on board but it has an embarked force capacity of about 1,600 personnel.
  • HMS Prince of Wales has the capacity to embark 36 F-35 Lightening jets and four Merlin Mark 4 helicopters depending on operational tasking.
  • Its flight deck is 70m wide and 280m long – as big as three football pitches – and it holds 45 days’ worth of food in stores.
  • From keel to the top of its highest mast, the ship is taller than Nelson’s Column.

Previous visits by TRHs to HMS Prince of Wales

In September 2017, Their Royal Highnesses attended the official Naming Ceremony at Rosyth Royal Dockyard, Fife. During the traditional ceremony, The Duchess in her role as the Ship’s Sponsor gave the signal for a bottle of whisky to be smashed against the hull of HMS Prince of Wales.

The Duchess said at the Naming Ceremony: “As Lady Sponsor, I take great pride in my own personal connections with the Royal Navy. For almost ten years now, I have been Commodore in Chief of the Royal Navy Medical Service and of the naval chaplaincy service. 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. I name this ship Prince of Wales. May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

The Prince of Wales also visited Babcock’s Rosyth Facilities in June 2016, and in an historic moment, His Royal Highness gave the order for the final section, which included part of the flight deck, to be lowered into place by the Goliath crane. This allowed the final welding to start in order to make the carrier structurally complete.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s military appointments associated with The Royal Navy:

Royal Naval Medical Service – Commodore-in-Chief

H.M.S. ASTUTE – Lady Sponsor

Naval Chaplaincy Service – Commodore-in-Chief

H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES – Lady Sponsor

CATCH UP on The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s most recent engagements in the latest issue of Royal Life.

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