WITH the cutting of a cake, Princess Alexandra officially launched a £2.6m restoration project on HMS Warrior.
The princess was given a tour of the Victorian warship at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where she met trustees, donors, staff and volunteers.
The new Heritage Lottery-funded project will include replacement of the Warrior’s bulwark – the sides which run around the top deck of the ship – as well as education programmes.
The ship’s captain and chief executive of the Warrior Preservation Trust, Commander Tim Ash escorted the princess around Warrior, showing her recent ly-restored sections.
Warrior board of trustees chairman Rear-Admiral Neil Latham said the princess’s visit was an ‘enormous privilege’.
He said: ‘It marks the success of our Heritage Lottery Fund bid which will enable us to take the next step in our preservation work and our outreach work to explain the history and purpose of Warrior.’
We’ll be trying to use the appropriate modern and traditional techniques to demonstrate to the public how you look after a shipIsobel Pollock
Another trustee, Professor Isobel Pollock, told the princess about the project.
Prof Pollock said: ‘The bulwarks are, in effect, rotting away and we must systematically do a repair.
‘I was telling Her Royal Highness that we’ll be doing it in sections because the ship will not be closed.
‘We’ll be trying to use the appropriate modern and traditional techniques to demonstrate to the public how you look after a ship.’
The princess caused a stir as she walked across the top deck, greeting visitors including a group of Oxford High School pupils.
Year 8 pupil Beatrice Tweedie, 12, said: ‘It’s really amazing because I’ve never seen a princess before and she seems really nice.’
Classmate Phoenix Kock-O’Rorke, 13, said: ‘It was a really great experience. I don’t think any of us expected her to come and talk to us.’
Portsmouth’s Lord Mayor Councillor Frank Jonas, Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Donna Jones and members of HMS Warrior’s Youth Theatre also had a chance to meet the princess.
At the fo’c’sle, the princess cut a cake with an image of Warrior, marking the start of the restoration.
The 700ft-long bulwark stretching around the top deck will be rebuilt with a treated wood from New Zealand called Accoya.