PRINCESS Anne visited Portsmouth Naval Base to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
The Royal unveiled new £30,000 glass doors at the entrance of St Ann’s Church in the dockyard which tell the story of Noah’s Ark, pay tribute to the 1982 conflict and are decorated with the jubilee insignia.
The Queen’s only daughter, 62, who is Commodore-in-Chief of HMNB Portsmouth, marvelled at the doors and said they ‘reflect very much an important part of the Royal Navy’.
She added: ‘It reflects so much of its immediate history while also marking, very generously, Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee - a lovely touch, thank you.’
St Ann’s Church was built in 1786 and it regarded as the spiritual home of the Royal Navy.
The new doors feature the Ark to resemble the church as a safe haven; a dove, rainbow and olive branch as a symbol of 30 years of peace in the South Atlantic. It also features the words ‘true faith’ and ‘sure hope’ taken from the naval prayer.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is commemorated on the glass handles which have a diamond shape cut into them, the flowers of the three Kingdoms and Principality, the number 60 and a crown.
Designer and engraver Tracey Sheppard, 51, of Winchester, said it was a ‘huge honour’ to have the doors unveiled by the Princess Royal.
She said: ‘I’m a big royalist, so to mark the jubilee in this way and be a part of it is very exciting.’
A service of thanksgiving was held before Princess Anne spent time speaking with Falklands veterans and received a posy from eight-year-old Eva Sharp, the granddaughter of Jenny Johns who has arranged flowers at St Ann’s since 1981.
‘It was really scary but I really enjoyed it,’ said Eva, who lives in Brighton.
Mrs Johns, of Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s fantastic. I don’t really remember Royalty coming here before. We don’t have many children here so I was thrilled to supply a granddaughter.’
Princess Anne, whose brother Prince Andrew served as a helicopter co-pilot in HMS Invincible during the Falklands War, spent a great deal of time speaking to veterans of the conflict.
Warrant Officer Steve Rule, 50, who served in HMS Antrim, said: ‘I was very impressed with Her Royal Highness. She spent a long time talking to us and was very interested in what we did. She has a great affinity with the navy and it’s good to see.
‘She asked me about my role in the Falklands and I said how I was a 19-year-old lad in a metal box being bombed and hit with shrapnel and how that changes your perspective on life.
‘We had the luck of the Irish on the Antrim. We were hit by a 1,000-pound bomb but it didn’t explode. If it had, I might not be here talking to you today.’