Prince Charles and Camilla face blustery weather at engagement

Ahoy! Prince Charles and Camilla brave blustery weather for official commissioning ceremony of £3.1 billion HMS Prince of Wales in Portsmouth

  • Prince Charles and Camilla beam and wave at Navy aircraft carrier at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth
  • 919ft (280m) long aircraft carrier can be put into action for high-intensity war fighting or humanitarian aid
  • To celebrate commissioning, Navy has given Charles the new title of Commodore-in-Chief, Aircraft Carriers
  • Camilla tells 3,000 people at ceremony that it is ‘beginning of an exciting new era in our long naval history’

The Prince of Wales braved blustery weather and rain with his wife Camilla today as he attended an official commissioning ceremony to formally welcome his namesake £3.1billion aircraft carrier into the Royal Navy.

Prince Charles, 71, and Duchess of Cornwall, 72, beamed and waved after arriving at Royal Navy aircraft carrier at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth for the ceremony in the Hampshire port today.

The 919ft (280m) long aircraft carrier can be put into action for various work such as high-intensity war fighting or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

To celebrate the commissioning of the ship, Charles has also been given a new title by the Navy of Commodore-in-Chief, Aircraft Carriers.

The Duchess of Cornwall, who is the ship’s sponsor, told around 3,000 people at the ceremony that it is ‘the beginning of an exciting new era in our long naval history’.

Prince Charles and Camilla along with Captain Darren Houston at the official commissioning ceremony in Portsmouth today

Camilla looks elegant in a dove grey coat as meets met with sailors aboard the HMS Prince of Wales in Portsmouth today

The Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is pictured as it arrives in Portsmouth

Charles and Camilla brave the blustery weather and rain as they arrived for the official commissioning ceremony today

The Duchess of Cornwall wore a stunning duck egg coat which she paired with a matching hat and a matching umbrella 

Camilla meets Bear Grylls as she attends the official commissioning ceremony of HMS Prince of Wales in Portsmouth today

The royals appear in high spirits as they watched the official ceremony welcoming the HMS Prince of Wales into the fleet 

The Duchess shelters beneath an umbrella and braves the rain ahead of the ceremony today in Portsmouth

HMS Prince of Wales (right) has been sitting alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth (left) at their home port of HMNB Portsmouth 

Camilla clutches her umbrella tightly as she makes her way into the commissioning ceremony of the aircraft carrier today

She said the carrier ‘joins a Navy which has protected this nation’s shores, and its interests across the globe, for over five centuries’, adding: ‘The sheer scale and size of HMS Prince of Wales is simply breathtaking.

‘Just to give you a comparison, Clarence House would fit nearly 25 times onto the flight deck. 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.’

The carrier, which is taller than Nelson’s Column and has a flight deck the size of three football pitches, will have at least 700 people serving on board and the capacity to hold around 1,600 personnel.

It will also be able to carry 36 jets and four helicopters, as well as enough food to last 45 days. 

Prince Charles appears in high spirits as he makes his way into the Portsmouth Naval Base alongside his wife Camilla today

Figures of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on a cake at the official Commissioning Ceremony of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (pictured right, Camilla’s figurine, and left, Prince Charles) 

An incredible cake bearing figurines of the royal couple had been made ahead of the ceremony in Portsmouth today 

The Duchess smiled as she inspected members of the ship’s company during the commissioning ceremony of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier

Meanwhile Prince Charles  saluted during the commissioning ceremony of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier

Members of the ship’s company appeared focused in front of the commissioning ceremony for the vessel 

Having sheltered from the rain, the Duchess of Cornwall beamed as she spoke with members of the ship’s company 

The royal looked relaxed while taking in the rows of members of the ship’s company ahead of the commissioning ceremony 

Prince Charles and Camilla both beamed after arriving out of the rain at the event in Plymouth today 

Camilla appeared charmed by the ship’s company and was seen chatting to various members during the ceremony 

The royal’s pale blue outfit stood out amongst the dark colours of the navy uniforms at the aircraft carrier 

The duchess said that the HMS Prince of Wales, along with its HMS Queen Elizabeth sister carrier, are ‘the largest and most advanced ships ever to fly the White Ensign’.

HMS Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth are the Navy’s largest and most powerful ships ever built

  • HMS Prince of Wales and her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth are the largest and most powerful ships ever built for the Royal Navy.
  • The two aircraft carriers cost a combined £6.2billion and replaced HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious, which have been decommissioned.
  • Both are more than 900ft (280m) long and 230ft (70m) wide, and have four-acre flight decks big enough for almost three full-size football pitches.
  • Each weighs 65,000 tons and has a top speed of more than 25 knots. They are capable of travelling 500 miles a day.
  • There are nine decks from the hull to the flight deck, rising to 16 decks at the ships’ highest points.
  • Once fully operational, each will house a crew of up to 1,600 service personnel.
  • The sister carriers each have two 33-tonne propellers which produce enough power to run 1,000 family cars, or 50 high speed trains.
  • They both have capacity for 36 of the new F35-B Lightning II fighter jets.
  • The jets can be lifted from the below-deck hangar to the deck in just 60 seconds.
  • Weapons systems onboard will be capable of firing 3,000 rounds per minute at incoming adversaries.
  • Long-range radars can track up to 1,000 aerial targets from up to 250 nautical miles away.
  • Type 997 Artisan 3D medium range radars can track a target the size of a snooker ball from a distance of 12 miles.

She added: ‘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. 78 years on, we now stand proudly before her successor.’

The carrier is the eighth Navy vessel to bear the name HMS Prince of Wales.

The duchess’ role as the carrier’s lady sponsor is ‘akin to being a godmother’, according to a Navy spokesman, and means she will attend significant events ‘during the life of the ship’.

The band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood, performed ahead of the royals’ arrival, which saw them greeted by Navy officials.

Camilla could be seen sheltering beneath a coordinated umbrella while she marched alongside Charles into the navy base ahead of the ceremony.

But once inside it appeared spirits were lifted and the royal couple chatted to various Navy officials ahead of the ceremony.

They went on to watch on while the boat was formally welcomed into the Royal Navy today.

Every effort had been made to welcome the royal couple to the ship ahead of the commissioning ceremony, including two figurines of Camilla and Charles sculpted atop a special cake.

Leading Seaman Damien Bye was one of those to help raise the White Ensign on the stern of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier during the ceremony.

Camilla last visited the ship for its naming ceremony in 2017 and will be the guest of honour at the ceremony taking place inside the hangar of the ship, which is docked at its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base.

Captain Darren Houston, commanding officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said: ‘We are extremely honoured to host the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at our commissioning ceremony.  

The Duchess of Cornwall is lady sponsor of the vessel, and is akin to a ‘godmother’ for the ship, according to A Royal Navy spokeswoman

The Prince of Wales saluted the White Ensign while the Duchess of Cornwall watched on at today’s ceremony 

The royals watched on during the official commissioning ceremony, which saw the ship welcomed into the navy’s fleet 

The royals proudly watched on while the commissioning ceremony took place on the HMS Prince of Wales today 

Prince Charles and Camilla both met with navy officials and the ship’s company while attending the ceremony today 

Members of the ship’s company raised the White Ensign on the stern of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier 

Leading Seaman Damien Bye who helped raise the White Ensign on the stern of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier 

The seamen braved the drizzly weather to raise the White Ensign on the stern of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales during the ceremony 

‘The last time our lady sponsor saw the ship was two years ago, so we are looking forward to showing her the vast changes that have since taken place.’

How this is the seventh Royal Navy vessel called HMS Prince of Wales

Winston Churchill on board a former HMS Prince of Wales en route to Newfoundland in 1941

The state-of-the-art aircraft carrier is the seventh Royal Navy vessel to carry the name HMS Prince of Wales.

The first ship to carry the name was a captured French privateer from the 17th century. Then, the second Prince of Wales was a 1750s armed merchantman .

Eventually, the Royal Navy commissioned a 74-gun battleship which fought the French in the 1770s.

Several of the remaining vessels to carry the name were of poor quality, or obsolete by the time they entered service. One was converted into a cadet training vessel.

Even the most famous Prince of Wales suffered big issues from the moment it was designed in the 1930s.

The King George V battleship was the second of the type to enter service – however, it was designed to adhere to strict arms limitation treaties of the time – which were designed to stop a naval arms race.

In May 1941, when still being tested, and despite having problems with her 14-inch guns, she was sent off to hunt the Bismark. The Bismark blasted HMS Hood out of the water, although Prince of Wales managed to hit the German battleship causing it some damage.

Later Prince of Wales took Winston Churchill to Newfoundland to meet US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later served in the Mediterranean.

However, her final mission was as part of Force Z in the Far East. She was sent to Singapore alongside the battle-cruiser Repulse, when they were attacked by Japanese bombers in December 1941.

Prince of Wales and Repulse became the first capital ships to have been sunk solely by air bombardment – which changed the face of naval warfare. Some 800 men were lost on both vessels.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘The ceremony consists of a royal guard made up by the ship’s company who will be inspected by their royal highnesses, as well as a service by the chaplain of the fleet and music from the Band of the Royal Marines.

‘Following this will be the cutting of the commissioning cake and the hoisting of the white ensign which officially designates the ship as part of the Royal Navy’s operational fleet.’

Explaining Camilla’s role, she said: ‘The role of the lady sponsor is akin to being a godmother, attending significant events during the life of the ship and taking an interest not only in the ship’s activities, but also the welfare of the ship’s company.

‘In turn, the ship keeps the lady sponsor appraised of newsworthy items of interest.’ 

She added: ‘While the ship is named the HMS Prince of Wales and uses the Prince of Wales’s three ostrich feather badge with the motto Ich Dien, it is named after its predecessor HMS Prince of Wales.

‘She is the eighth Royal Navy vessel to bear the name.’

The carrier was united with its twin ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, for the first time at Portsmouth last week, which returned from the US, where it had been carrying out trials of its F35B Lightning jet fighters.

Last Wednesday, the two giant aircraft carriers docked together, stern to bow, for the first time at their home base of Portsmouth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived at the Hampshire naval base following a three-month deployment to the USA for test flights of its F-35B Lightning jets. 

The 65,000-tonne warship manoeuvred into place alongside HMS Prince of Wales, which arrived for the first time at Portsmouth last month.

The Queen Elizabeth and its carrier strike group sailed from the UK in August to carry out the flight tests

Major upgrade work was carried out on the jetties at Portsmouth so that the two giant ships could berth next to each other.

During their 50-year service, the two 919ft (280m) long aircraft carriers can be pressed into action for various work such as high-intensity war fighting or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. 

Prince of Wales’ strike force: Lightning II F-35 fighter jets with speed of 1,200 mph and a killer punch

The HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth both have capacity for 36 of the new F35-B Lightning II fighter jets.  Here are some facts and figures about the fighter jets which are based at RAF Marham in Norfolk:

– The jet measures 51.2ft (15.6m) in overall length, has a wingspan of 35ft (10.7m) and a height of 14.3ft (4.36m).

– It has a top speed of 1.6 Mach or 1,200 mph, a Max G rating of 7G, and a combat radius of 518 miles (833km).

– Lockheed Martin, the American company building the jet, describes its stealth capabilities as ‘unprecedented’. Its airframe design, advanced materials and other features make it ‘virtually undetectable to enemy radar’.


– Britain has committed to a £9.1 billion programme to buy 48 of the jets by 2025 – with a pledge to purchase 138 – they will be jointly operated by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots.

– The F-35B jets are built from more than 300,000 individual parts.

– The UK’s supersonic aircraft have been based in the US since their manufacture.

– There are six distributed aperture system sensors around the jet – two underneath, two on top of the aircraft and one either side of the nose. These infrared cameras feed real-time information and images into the pilot’s helmet, allowing them to see through the airframe.

– All variants of the jets are mainly constructed on Lockheed Martin’s mile-long production line in Fort Worth, Texas.

– It takes 58,000 man hours to build each F-35B.

– The F-35 can launch from land, and will take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth via the skip jump ramp, which has been designed to optimise the launch.


– Maximum thrust tops 40,000lb and the jet has a range of 900 nautical miles.

– The jet is capable of two types of ship landing – vertically on to the deck, and also through the shipborne rolling vertical landing, which using forward air speed, allows the aircraft to bring back several thousand pounds of extra weight to the ship.

– The warplanes will carry out missions from the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

– Lockheed Martin said across the 3,000 jets being built, 15% of each one is comprised of parts from British companies.

– Some of the UK companies with contracts to produce parts of jets includes Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Ultra Electronics, Selex, Cobham and GE Aviation.

– Lockheed Martin UK chief executive Peter Ruddock said that, to date, the F-35 programme has generated 13.5 billion dollars in contracts for British suppliers.

– HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots, its flight deck is 919ft (280m) long and 230ft (70m) wide – enough space for three football pitches.

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