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HMS Queen Elizabeth’s role in commemorating the Queen’s life

AB(Wtr) Alisha Defreitas on board the Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea on operations.
18 September 2022
Sailors on the Royal Navy’s flagship have paid tribute to – and reflected on – the importance of Her Majesty to their ship, which carries her name worldwide.

As HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed for the United States at the beginning of an autumn of operations, gun salutes and memorial services took place on board to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The ship fired off a 96-gun salute, led by Chief Petty Officer Gary Fletcher, the lead ceremonial training instructor on board.

The following day sailors also fired a 21-gun salute, announcing His Majesty King Charles III, while crew watched the accession ceremony beamed aboard live by TV.

“We were honoured to fire the 96-gun salute to mark the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” said Gary.

“We fired one round every ten seconds. Each round representing one year of Her Majesty’s life.

“It was poignant as while serving as Chief of the Guard at HMS Drake I also took the lead of the firing of the 41-gun salute to mark the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

“To be part of such a momentous occasion was, for me, a fitting tribute and professionally and personally a very proud moment.

“We then had the privilege of firing a 21-gun salute to mark the proclamation of King Charles III.”

To be part of such a momentous occasion was, for me, a fitting tribute and professionally and personally a very proud moment

Chief Petty Officer Gary Fletcher

Above Water Warfare specialist Gunner Ryan Patourel, added: “We did a 21-gun salute for His Royal Highness King Charles III’s proclamation.

“It was a really proud moment for us all to be part of the gun crews and hope we represented HMS Queen Elizabeth well.

“Saluting guns is really rare, so when we do get the opportunity to do one it is a proud moment.

“You can really feel vibrations and it’s really loud. It’s a bit of a shock when you first hear it but it’s great to be a part of history and something I will always look back on in my career in the navy.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth was he final ship Her Majesty named/launched. She also attended the commissioning of the aircraft carrier in 2017 and, on her final visit to the Royal Navy in 2021, met the crew before the ship sailed on her maiden operational deployment to the Pacific.

Although the carrier is the Queen’s namesake, omitting the regnal number allowed the warship to inherit the badge and battle honours of the previous HMS Queen Elizabeth – a super dreadnought which served extensively in both world wars.

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