Scottish seaman among those greeted by the Queen on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth before its first operational deployment

Among the 1,700 personnel greeted by the Queen on board the £3 billion warship set to depart for Asia was able seaman Chelsea Paterson from Chirnside.

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth at HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, ahead of the ship's maiden deployment. The visit comes as HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares to lead the UK Carrier Strike Group on a 28-week operational deployment travelling over 26,000 nautical miles from the Mediterranean to the Philippine Sea.

The Queen was welcomed on board at Portsmouth Naval Base by the ship's commanding officer Captain Angus Essenhigh, and Commodore Stephen Moorhouse, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

She was given a briefing on the 28-week deployment which will cover 26,000 nautical miles travelling through the Mediterranean to the Red Sea then from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to the Philippine Sea.

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Able seaman Chelsea Paterson was one of some of the 1,700 personnel on board the carrier which include Royal Navy sailors, Royal Air Force airmen and women, Royal Marines, and 250 United States personnel.

“It was incredible, an honour to see her, let alone speak to her, the highlight of my career,” said 24-year-old Ms Paterson.

The warship, carrying eight RAF F35B stealth fighter jets, will depart later on Saturday for Asia accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters, a company of Royal Marines.

The Queen’s visit followed a tour by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday.

She was wearing a brick-red military-style cashmere coat with a black velvet collar and buttons, over a crepe wool dress by Stewart Parvin and a Rachel Trevor-Morgan hat.

She was also wearing a scarab brooch which was a gift from the Duke of Edinburgh.

It is understood that the Queen is keen to recommence more public engagements in the coming months instead of the virtual events which have taken up much of her schedule since the pandemic hit.

Captain Essenhigh said: "It's always a great privilege to host the Queen and to have her as both our sovereign and our lady sponsor come and wish us well as we set off on a seven-month deployment is something incredibly special."

The Queen presented a medal for 15 years' long service and good conduct to Petty Officer Matthew Ready, 38, from Gosport, Hampshire.

He said: "It was an incredible honour for me and my family.

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