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Iron Duke and RM Band support The King and Queen in Bordeaux

22 September 2023
The Royal Navy provided a fitting backdrop to the final day of The King and Queen’s three day State Visit to France by hosting a visit by Their Majesties in Bordeaux.

Frigate HMS Iron Duke hosted a Reception for The King and Queen while the Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Lympstone provided the musical accompaniment on the neighbouring jetty.

Arriving in south-west France from Paris, The King and Queen were welcomed to Iron Duke by a Royal Guard and the National Anthem performed by the Royal Marines Musicians.

Once onboard the Portsmouth-based frigate – and with the Royal Standard hoisted to mark the occasion – The King and Queen were led to the warship’s flight deck for an official reception attended by members of the local Bordeaux community, representatives of veterans charities within the Bordeaux community, and local government officials. 

The Royal visitors chatted with guests as well as members of Iron Duke’s 200-strong ship’s company. 

“It has been the greatest privilege and honour for HMS Iron Duke to be able to support Their Majesties' first State Visit to France since the Coronation,” said HMS Iron Duke’s Commanding Officer Commander James Wallington-Smith.

“The visit is an opportunity to mark our long standing relationship with our friends in the Marine Nationale and wider French Armed Forces. It reinforces our shared values and continues to ensure our navies are evolving to be ever more interoperable, capable, and sustainable.”

Receiving the Royal Victoria Medal from The King was a surreal moment that will never be forgotten. To now also be part of the Guard of Honour for His Majesty’s State visit to France is an extremely proud moment.

Engineering Technician Laurynas Berenis

Among the Royal Guard for The King and Queen were Engineering Technicians Laurynas Berenis and Harrison Smith, responsible for maintaining the frigate’s complex weapons systems and sensors.

Both were part of the crew accompanying the gun carriage at the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 12 months ago and were subsequently decorated by The King with the Royal Victoria Medal (RVM).

“It was an honour and a privilege to be part of the Gun Carriage crew for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s funeral,” said Laurynas. “Receiving the RVM from HM the King was a surreal moment that will never be forgotten. To now also be part of the Guard of Honour for His Majesty’s State visit to France is an extremely proud moment.”

Harrison added: “I feel very proud to have been awarded the RVM, and now being a part of the guard of honour for His Majesty The King’s visit to Bordeaux is something I could have only dreamed of." 

Throughout the Royal Marines Musicians – normally based at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone in Devon – drew on their repertoire of military, classical and contemporary tunes.

HMS Iron Duke, which has recently completed a major refit and represented the Royal Navy at the DSEI defence exhibition in London’s ExCeL Centre earlier this month, berthed at King Louis XVIII Quai on Bordeaux’s historic waterfront.

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