Camilla christens new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales

New aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales sitting at Rosyth Dockyard. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
New aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales sitting at Rosyth Dockyard. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The Royal Navy’s second of a new generation of aircraft carriers has been formally named after the Prince of Wales at a special ceremony.

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

HMS Prince of Wales bow gets cleaned. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

HMS Prince of Wales bow gets cleaned. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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 when in Scotland, looked on as Camilla carried out the honours to see the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier reach the latest landmark in the construction process.

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After a short speech Camilla declared: “I name this ship Prince of Wales. May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

She pressed a button to trigger the smashing of a bottle of Laphroaig whisky against the ship’s hull.

The Islay single malt is believed to be one of Charles’ favourites.

In her speech, the Duchess said: “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.

“I can also boast six Admirals among my forebears, who fought with varying degrees of distinction for King and country throughout the 18th century.

“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.

“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. Wherever she is asked to serve her country, may she and her company return safely to harbour.”

Earlier, the Duchess told the crowds that seven shipyards across the country have worked together to design and build the carrier and its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“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 dress and coat designed by Fiona Clare for the occasion, along with a navy and white Philip Treacy hat and a Prince of Wales feathered brooch. Charles, Admiral of the Fleet, sported a Royal Navy uniform with medals.

Camilla told the hundreds of people gathered at the dockyard that the ship is the seventh in the Navy to bear the name HMS Prince of Wales, with the first being launched in 1765.

The “most distinguished” was a King George V class battleship, launched in 1939, which played a vital part in the Second World War.

It was sunk in the South China Sea in December 1941, with the loss of 327 lives. Three men who served on the battleship were present at Friday’s ceremony.

Camilla and Charles attended the event along with UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Scottish Economy Secretary Keith Brown.

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

HMS Prince of Wales is set to follow in 2019 and those working on the 280-metre carrier say lessons have been learned in the construction of the first ship which will make the second “more efficient”.

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.

Overall, six shipyards around the UK - Appledore, Birkenhead, Govan, Portsmouth, Rosyth and Tyne - have been involved in building various parts of the carriers.

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.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones said during the ceremony: “In the few short months since she put to sea, HMS Queen Elizabeth has become an icon of British engineering and British innovation, and it was a joyous occasion to welcome her into her home port of Portsmouth just over three weeks ago.

“The same will be true for HMS Prince of Wales. Wherever she travels, at home or overseas, she will draw crowds to the water’s edge where they will marvel at your achievement.

“Alone, either one of these vessels would be a formidable expression of military might. But together, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales send a powerful message to friend and foe alike.

“We may live in uncertain times, but the United Kingdom has lost none of its famous resolve. We will protect our interests, we will support our allies, and we will shoulder our responsibilities, wherever in the world they are at stake.”

Stephen Moorhouse was named the first seagoing captain of HMS Prince of Wales this week and will take over from captain Ian Groom, currently the Senior Naval Officer on board the ship during the carrier’s build programme.

Captain Moorhouse is a former Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean and HMS Lancaster.

The 44-year-old said: “Seeing our sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth make her debut in Portsmouth last month was an amazing sight and I look forward to one day bringing HMS Prince of Wales home to the same warm welcome.

“Until then the ship’s company in Rosyth will continue to grow and they have much to be proud of in all the work they have done so far, working with our civilian industry partners to bring this ship to life.”

Mr Brown said: “Having had the opportunity to visit the Queen Elizabeth during its construction in 2013, it is good to be back here today at Rosyth, to witness this ceremony to name the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate everybody involved in the building of this ship and to recognise the top quality skills of the workforce on display.

“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.

“This is further proof that Scottish shipyards possess the skills and capability to deliver ships of high quality.”