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William and Kate sign historic Bible from Portsmouth

POIGNANT William and Kate sign the book. Inset, previous signatories, including Williams parents Charles and Diana

POIGNANT William and Kate sign the book. Inset, previous signatories, including Williams parents Charles and Diana

 

Hundreds of years ago a fleet of ships left Portsmouth to found a colony in Australia.

Now, their fleet Bible has been signed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of their tour of the country.

The Bible spends most of its time locked in a safe in Sydney’s St Philip’s Church, and it has been signed by every visiting monarch in the past century.

Brought out in the First Fleet, as the convoy of ships is known, the large leather-bound Bible is inscribed with this address ‘Botany Bay’.

It is believed to have been used by chaplain Richard Johnson when conducting the first Christian service in the colony.

The Bible is charred in places and was almost completely lost in a fire in 1798 that destroyed Sydney’s first church. Queen Elizabeth signed the Bible in 1954 while on a whirlwind tour of Australia, where she visited 57 cities and towns in a similar number of days.

Newlyweds Prince Charles and Diana penned their names in 1983.

Now William and Kate have added their own, after visiting the church for an Easter Sunday service.

 

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