HMS Diamond is ideal choice to start the celebrations

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We are delighted that HMS Diamond has been given the honour of officially starting the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and that Portsmouth is to host the event.

And the ship and city will together certainly give the four-day weekend celebration an explosive start.

Crowds will flock to Old Portsmouth to see the Type 45 destroyer fire a 21-gun salute and give three cheers to Her Majesty as Diamond enters Portsmouth Harbour on June 1.

It is a great honour for the senior service, enhanced by the addition of four Royal Navy helicopters performing a flypast over the ship in a diamond formation.

And, as we report today, the navy saluting gun overlooking the harbour entrance at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, will fire 21 times in return.

The choice of Diamond is a good one. The monarch’s close links with the Royal Navy stretch back centuries to the time of Henry VIII.

That relationship is steeped in history, and will remain so.

Fittingly though, one of the newest ships in the fleet has been selected for the 21-gun salute.

Diamond represents the future of the Royal Navy, and we charge the Government with the duty to keep the fleet strong for this and future monarchs.

The navy is, of course, strongly represented in the Jubilee pageant on the River Thames this weekend.

As well as ships, it will provide a spectacular finale as a Swordfish bi-plane, the only one of its kind still flying, leads a Diamond Nine flypast of Royal Navy helicopters to close the pageant.

All of this costs money of course, and critics say that we can ill afford such largesse in the current economic climes.

We feel otherwise. This is an almost unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and it is right that we mark it with some pomp and circumstance – as well as a jolly good knees-up.

So we wish the crew of HMS Diamond well as they prepare to take centre stage at the start of a momentous weekend for the Queen and the Royal Navy, and for this great nation of ours.