Princess Anne visits Portsmouth to mark 100 years of the Wrens

HRH Princess Anne attends the 100th Anniversary of the Womens Royal Naval Service at a service of thanksgiving held inside Portsmouth Cathedral 'Picture Ian Hargreaves (171557-1)

A ROYAL visitor graced a city cathedral to lead a ceremony marking a century of the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

Hundreds of people flocked to Portsmouth Cathedral on Saturday morning to witness Princess Anne give a speech and unveil a commemorative stone, marking 100 years of the armed forces branch.

The Princess Royal is the chief commandant for women in the Royal Navy.

Former members of the WRNS, known as the Wrens, told of their experiences during both World Wars.

A book of remembrance was also presented.

Commodore Inga Kennedy, the highest-ranked female officer in the senior service, said: ‘I’m absolutely astonished at the amount of women here today.

‘It says something about loyalty, 100 years on, that these people have gathered in Portsmouth – somewhere I consider to be the home of the Royal Navy.

‘It’s a fantastic celebration for women and a phenomenal achievement.’

Commodore Kennedy said that she would like to see women serving in the Royal Marines.

She added: ‘There was a time when women went unrecognised and what some of the Wrens I’ve met today did to put us in this position is inspiring.

‘I hope that next year we’ll see more women in the navy and women in the Royal Marines.

‘I’m extremely proud to be a woman in the navy and to learn how the women here today paved the way for equal footing.’

Barbara McGregor, the longest serving ex-Wren still in service in the navy, also attended the event.

She said: ‘I’m honoured to be here.

‘Each and every one of us has been treated like a VIP.

‘In two years I will finish my service, but I have been named as a trustee for the association of the Wrens so I can continue to do my bit.’

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