Thousands expected for HMS Ark Royal parade

IMPOSING HMS Ark Royal enters Portsmouth Harbour
IMPOSING HMS Ark Royal enters Portsmouth Harbour
The fragment from the Union Jack believed to have flown on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Credit: Sotheby's

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SAILORS from HMS Ark Royal are due to march through Portsmouth City Centre today ahead of a ceremony to officially bid goodbye to their home port.

Around 200 men and women serving aboard the axed aircraft carrier will begin marching from Paradise Street near Commercial Road at 11.20am, making their way down the shopping precinct towards Guildhall Square.

A short ceremony is due to take place in the square from 11.45 to midday, during which a White Ensign flag will be presented from the Ark to the city.

Speakers will include Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson and the Ark’s commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd.

After the ceremony, which will end in prayer, families and sailors will congregate in the Guildhall for a reception.

Around 50 sailors will be presented on the pitch at Fratton Park ahead of Pompey’s match against Leeds - the city the ship is affiliated to.

At Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the ship will officially open to visitors at midday until 4pm. It is free to go and have a look around the ship, which has two helicopters on board.

The ship is also open tomorrow 10am to 3pm.

Around 6,000 people are expected to come aboard the famous vessel this weekend.