Charles to attend commissioning of HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier

The Prince of Wales will attend the commissioning ceremony of his namesake £3.1 billion aircraft carrier.

Charles will accompany the Duchess of Cornwall – the ship’s lady sponsor – for the event to formally welcome the HMS Prince of Wales into the Royal Navy.

Camilla last visited the ship for its naming ceremony in 2017 and will be the guest of honour at the ceremony taking place inside the hangar of the ship, which is docked at its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base.

Captain Darren Houston, commanding officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said: “We are extremely honoured to host the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at our commissioning ceremony.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall

“The last time our lady sponsor saw the ship was two years ago, so we are looking forward to showing her the vast changes that have since taken place.”

A Royal Navy spokeswoman said: “The ceremony consists of a royal guard made up by the ship’s company who will be inspected by their royal highnesses, as well as a service by the chaplain of the fleet and music from the Band of the Royal Marines.

“Following this will be the cutting of the commissioning cake and the hoisting of the white ensign which officially designates the ship as part of the Royal Navy’s operational fleet.”

Explaining Camilla’s role, she said: “The role of the lady sponsor is akin to being a godmother, attending significant events during the life of the ship and taking an interest not only in the ship’s activities, but also the welfare of the ship’s company.

“In turn, the ship keeps the lady sponsor appraised of newsworthy items of interest.”

She added: “While the ship is named the HMS Prince of Wales and uses the Prince of Wales’s three ostrich feather badge with the motto Ich Dien, it is named after its predecessor HMS Prince of Wales. She is the eighth Royal Navy vessel to bear the name.”

The carrier was united with its twin ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, for the first time at Portsmouth last week when the older of the pair returned from the US, where it had been carrying out trials of its F35B Lightning jet fighters.