UK: Prince Philip Gets Navy’s Most Senior Title
Listening intently to Britain’s most senior Naval officer is the nation’s new Lord High Admiral, who was inaugurated at a ceremony in Admiralty House.
The historic title was bestowed upon the Duke of Edinburgh earlier this year to celebrate his 90th birthday.
The former naval officer – he left the Senior Service at the beginning of the 1950s as a commander having seen action in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Pacific and home waters – received the Letters Patent and the Lord High Admiral’s verge and flag at a ceremony in London.
Before ‘taking office’, Prince Philip, accompanied by Her Majesty The Queen, received an outline of the Royal Navy’s efforts to protect the nation’s interests as First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope and Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar described the Service’s current global mission: from the Fleet heavily committed east of Suez to the Fleet Air Arm (Commando Helicopter Force is just back from Afghanistan, where ‘Bagger’ Sea Kings continue to track insurgent movements) and the Royal Marines, the majority of whom are also just returned from Helmand.
The title which the duke now carries traces its history back to the early 15th Century and previous incumbents of the office include Charles II and Queen Anne.
In 1709 it was re-titled First Lord of the Admiralty and the holders – including Admirals Howe and Anson, bookseller and politician W H Smith and Winston Churchill (twice) – were the figures held accountable by Parliament for the running of the Navy.
The office of First Lord of the Admiralty was abolished in the mid-1960s and the honorary title Lord High Admiral re-introduced.
It has been held by the Queen until this summer when she decided to hand over the title to her husband of more than six decades.
The duke was given an overview of the office’s history – and hopefully will prove less renegade in office than one of his predecessors, the Duke of Clarence.
Prince Phillip delighted in the story of the 19th Century First Lord who “led a squadron out for manoeuvres without consulting either his council, the King or the Duke of Wellington and was gone, no one knew where, for ten days it proved too much and he was asked to resign”.
After proceedings inside the Admiralty Boardroom – where once Nelson attending briefings and today’s Navy Board still meets regularly – the Queen and Duke were treated to a display by the Royal Marines Corps of Drums in Admiralty Square before attending a reception with sailors senior and junior.
Naval Today Staff , November 28, 2011; Image: royalnavy