CROWDS welcomed the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new carrier to Portsmouth.
There were thousands of people on Southsea seafront, in Old Portsmouth and in Gosport this morning - and many said it was an incredible day to be part of.
Mary Hudson, from Havant, was there with her husband John and son Luke.
She said: ‘Although I had seen online how big it was, it was a lot bigger than I expected.
‘It really wowed me. It was so impressive.
‘It is great to be a part of this day and to see her coming into Portsmouth for the first time. It’s a moment that I’ll remember for ever.’
Luke, aged 11, added: ‘It is awesome. The ship was really big and seeing the helicopters too was cool.’
Couple Lucy and Jamie Richards, from Cosham, said it was worth getting up early for.
Jamie, who’s dad was in the Royal Navy, said: ‘It was a bit emotional watching it come in. There’s just something incredible about seeing her in the Solent.
‘It was great seeing the crowds to welcome her. Even though I had to get up at 5am, I wouldn’t have missed this. It’s been fantastic.’
The 60,000-tonne aircraft carrier was visible on the Solent from before 6am as she prepared to arrive into Portsmouth Harbour around 7.10am.
Suzanne Welch and Terry Card, from Portsmouth, said the ship gave them great pride.
Suzanne, 55, said: ‘This is something that won’t happen again so it’s exciting to be a part of it.
‘We love the city and it’s amazing to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth.’
Sarah Tremlett said: ‘it was utterly amazing to see her up so close.
‘It makes me so proud as a Pompey girl. You just really had to be there to see that stunning sight right next to the shore.
Ms Tremlett, who grew up in Cowplain but now lives in Nottingham said: ‘This is what this city is all about, coming out to support our navy on days like this. It makes the 5am start worth it.’
Andrew Taylor, from Cosham, was up early as his son Thomas, an aircraft handler was aboard.
He said: ‘It was a very special moment for the family today.
‘It’s absolutely huge up close and a lot bigger then you think it’s going to be.
‘It was great to see thousands come down and give their support. You have got to be there for the first time haven’t you!’
He added that his son was looking to take him aboard for lunch this weekend.
Meanwhile over in Gosport, there were hundreds of people out for the occasion.
Mark Adams, 50, from Gosport said: ‘That was absolutely amazing watching it come in for the first time and it was a really impressive sight.’
Many jumped on the next ferry out of the port to get a closer glimpse of the great warship.
Gosport ferry manager Clive Lane said: ‘It is nice to see thousands of people out here and it is great to see a massive ship come into the harbour.
‘The Portsmouth economy is going to be fantastic for the next 50 odd years with both of the vessels.’
Police, ambulance and the coastguard have been on hand all morning to aid with crowds and ensure safety for everyone.
Lucy Tanner, senior coastal operations officer at HM Coastguard said: ‘Today I have been assisting the other authorities in covering the safety of members of the public as they witness the arrival of our brand new carrier, Queen Elizabeth on her first entry to Portsmouth.’
Stephen Leng said: ‘I am so excited and I am Royal Navy so it’s in my blood – born and bred on the Isle of Wight so I have always been near the sea.
‘I thought I would come down and I can’t believe how many other people have too.’
Janice Metcalfe and Craig Metcalfe from Lancashire, are on holiday and came down to see the arrival in Gosport this morning.
Janice said: ‘We have come down from Lancashire because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
‘It was spectacular to see.’
Craig said: ‘It was brilliant. I didn’t think it would be so big.’
The Cocks family got up at 5.15am to come down to Gosport ferry terminal to welcome in the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Mum Claire Cocks said: ‘It was definitely worth getting up at 5.15am for and it has been great and now we have lots of photos which I am sure will be on my son’s instagram later.’
Twelve-year-old Dylan Cocks said: ‘How very patriotic it was.’
Claire added: ‘It was so nice to see so many people get out and I wasn’t expecting this many.’