Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a huge pleasure for my husband and I to be back with you all again. We are here to celebrate the entry of the sixth HMS Prince of Wales into the Fleet. And on this very special occasion, we should perhaps pause for a moment to reflect on the events of the past. We remember, with great sorrow, the loss of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and so many of her Ship’s company off the eastern coast of Malaya on this day in 1941. Seventy-eight years on, we now proudly stand before her successor. She and her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth are the largest and most advanced Ships ever to fly the White Ensign.
So on this momentous day, a new chapter opens in a Ship’s history which stretches back to 1765. She joins a Navy which has protected this nation’s shores, and its interests across the globe, for over five centuries. May I say how pleased I am that this great Ship shares my husband’s name. And now, as Honorary Commodore-in-Chief, Aircraft Carriers, I am delighted that he will have an even stronger link to this Ship and her sister. Now I believe it is to the credit of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, and the thousands of civilians and Service personnel, that this incredible feat of British engineering is now ready to enter the Fleet.
The sheer scale and size of HMS Prince of Wales is simply breath-taking: just to give you a comparison, Clarence House would fit nearly twenty-five times onto the flight deck! However, even a ship of this size, impressive though she is, only becomes a Warship with a Ship’s Company. The men and women of HMS Prince of Wales breathe life into her; without them, she is just a steel hull. They represent the very best of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and the wider Commonwealth.
Now I know that all of you will face long periods of separation from those you hold dear, but I feel sure that the support of your families will strengthen and comfort you in the challenges you will face on the high seas. As your proud Lady Sponsor, please remember that you will also be in my thoughts and prayers. You will serve your country in an extraordinary Ship, at the beginning of an exciting new era in our long naval history.
Wherever in the world HMS Prince of Wales is sent, may she acquit herself with honour, and return safely home. I wish you all fair winds and following seas.