Charles attends commissioning of £3.1 billion namesake aircraft carrier

The Prince of Wales has attended a ceremony to formally welcome his namesake £3.1 billion aircraft carrier into the Royal Navy.

To celebrate the commissioning of the ship, Charles has also been given a new title by the Navy of Commodore-in-Chief, Aircraft Carriers.

The Duchess of Cornwall, who is the ship’s sponsor, told around 3,000 people at the ceremony that it is “the beginning of an exciting new era in our long naval history”.

The HMS Prince of Wales
The HMS Prince of Wales

At Portsmouth Naval Base, she said that the carrier “joins a Navy which has protected this nation’s shores, and its interests across the globe, for over five centuries”.

She added: “The sheer scale and size of HMS Prince of Wales is simply breathtaking.

“Just to give you a comparison, Clarence House would fit nearly 25 times onto the flight deck.

“May I say how pleased I am that this great ship shares my husband’s name.

“And now, as Honorary Commodore-in-Chief, Aircraft Carriers, I am delighted that he will have an even stronger link to this ship and her sister.”

HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Prince of Wales

The carrier, which is taller than Nelson’s Column and has a flight deck the size of three football pitches, will have at least 700 people serving on board and the capacity to hold around 1,600 personnel.

It will also be able to carry 36 jets and four helicopters, as well as enough food to last 45 days.

The duchess said that the HMS Prince of Wales, along with its HMS Queen Elizabeth sister carrier, are “the largest and most advanced ships ever to fly the White Ensign”.

HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Prince of Wales

She added: “We remember, with great sorrow, the loss of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and so many of her ship’s company off the eastern coast of Malaya on this day in 1941.

“78 years on, we now stand proudly before her successor.”

The carrier is the eighth Navy vessel to bear the name HMS Prince of Wales.

The duchess’ role as the carrier’s lady sponsor is “akin to being a godmother”, according to a Navy spokeswoman, and means she will attend significant events “during the life of the ship”.