HMS Queen Elizabeth: Why does the chaplain carries a branch while on-board Royal Navy carrier?

HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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HMS Queen Elizabeth’s chaplain was pictured on-board the ship holding a branch resembling a trident as she sailed into Portsmouth. 

The padre, Reverend Alastair Mansfield, was her figurehead as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier sailed back into her home port on Saturday evening after returning from routine maintenance at the dry dock in Rosyth. 

In a picture featured in The Times newspaper, the chaplain can be seen holding the large branch which made him look a bit like Neptune. 

READ MORE: HMS QE arrives back in Portsmouth from Scotland

However the reason he is holding it while on-board the 65,000 tonne carrier has now been revealed by HMS Queen Elizabeth’s social media team. 

The ship’s official Twitter account posted: ‘It has no biblical, historic or mythological meaning.

HMS Queen Elizabeth's chaplain Alastair Mansfield. Picture: Royal Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth's chaplain Alastair Mansfield. Picture: Royal Navy

‘He himself, isn’t in fact a reincarnation of Neptune either

‘It literally is a branch from his back garden he takes to sea to remind him of home. It even sprouted greenery in USA. #OurPadre #Bish #TrueStory.’ 

READ MORE: HMS QE crew to pay homage to D-Day veterans

What is a chaplain? 

Also known as a padre, or more informally as bish, a chaplain is a minister who serves in the military. 

In the navy they are known as Chaplain Royal Navy and are recruited from a number of Christian denominations – such as Church of England or Catholic Church. 

Chaplains undergo training at Britannia Royal Naval College alongside other Royal Navy officer cadets. 

Padres can also opt to earn their ‘Dolphins' and serve in the Submarine Service or the green beret and serve with the Royal Marines.