THE Queen has praised the Royal Navy’s new £3.1bn aircraft carrier and declared it the ‘best of British’.
Accompanied by the Princess Royal, the monarch arrived on board HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth Naval Base using a specially installed lift to bring her up to the hangar for the occasion.
Wearing a purple outfit, she was led on board by the ship’s commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd.
In a speech to the 3,700 guests, she trumpeted the abilities of the navy and said: ‘We are gathered here in Portsmouth today just a short distance from HMS Victory, a flagship of our seafaring past and a reminder of the debt we owe to the Royal Navy which for more than 500 years has protected the people of this country and our interests around the world.
‘Like HMS Victory, HMS Queen Elizabeth embodies the best of British technology and innovation, a true flagship for the 21st century.
‘The most powerful and capable ship ever to raise the White Ensign, she will in the years and decades ahead represent the country’s resolve on the global stage.’
She also praised the service personnel who will crew the carrier and said: ‘As the daughter, wife and mother of naval officers, I recognise the unique demands our nation asks of you and I will always value my special link with HMS Queen Elizabeth, her ship’s company and their families.’
Her Majesty arrived in Portsmouth via a special train at Portsmouth Harbour.
She was welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Ken Ellcome, Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney and Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson.
Cllr Ellcome said: ‘This is a great day and it was really exciting meeting the Queen for the first time.
‘It is a great honour to welcome royalty to the city, especially Her Majesty the Queen.’
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, was also part of the welcoming party and said it had been a ‘huge life ambition’ to meet the monarch. She added: ‘Today is an historic and important day for the city of Portsmouth and particularly the Royal Navy, of whom I am particularly proud.’
Portsmouth Cathedral Choir, accompanied by singer Katherine Jenkins and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, provided tunes for the Queen at the ceremony. The Queen later enjoyed a three-course lunch cooked by navy chefs.