Hampshire & Isle of Wight

HMS Prince of Wales commissioning ceremony held in Portsmouth

Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Image copyright Belinda Jane Alker
Image caption The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended the ceremony in Portsmouth

The Royal Navy's £3.1bn new aircraft carrier has been commissioned at a ceremony in Portsmouth attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

They inspected a royal guard made up by the ship's company, as part of the event at the city's naval dockyard.

The Duchess of Cornwall, who is the ship's sponsor, told the gathering of about 3,000 people that it is "the beginning of an exciting new era in our long naval history".

Image copyright Pete Nicholls/PA
Image caption The ceremony heard music from the Band of the Royal Marines

The hoisting of the white ensign officially designated the ship as part of the Royal Navy's operational fleet.

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.

A service was conducted by the chaplain of the fleet, with music from the Band of the Royal Marines.

Image copyright Andrew Matthews/PA
Image caption Members of the ship's company raised the white ensign

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

The 65,000-tonne warship was united with its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth earlier this month, when the older of the pair returned from the US, where it had been carrying out trials of its F35B Lightning jet fighters.

Image copyright Royal Navy
Image caption HMS Queen Elizabeth, right, returned to its home port last week

The two 919ft (280m) long aircraft carriers, which cost £3.1lbn each, are expected to be in service for the next 50 years and are the largest and most advanced warships ever built for the navy.

Major upgrade work has been carried out on the jetties at Portsmouth to allow the ships to berth beside each other.

The duchess' role as 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".

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Media captionHMS Prince of Wales commissioning ceremony held in Portsmouth

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