Today, Princess Alexandra paid a visit to the HMS Warrior 1860, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the vessel’s return to Portsmouth.
Currently docked in the city’s historic docklands, the Victorian warship – now a museum – is undergoing huge restoration, which aims to return the boat to its former glory.
The Queen’s cousin, 80, is patron of the HMS Warrior Preservation Trust, and last visited the ship in 2015 when the restoration project was formally launched. The project has been financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with £2.6 million being used to conserve the ship’s inner structures, as well as repairing the outer parts of the ship, which suffered damage as a result of excessive weathering. It is hoped that the project will be completed by Easter 2018.
The vessel was launched in 1860, and was Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship. During the 1800s, the ship was considered to be the pride of Queen Victoria’s naval fleet. Indeed, the warship was actually the biggest, fastest and most powerful warship of its time, thanks to its use of both steam and sail power.
During her visit, Alexandra received an update on the restoration process. The royal guest was then invited to talk to employees, volunteers and trustees involved in the process, before enjoying tea and cake.
The Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Professor Dominic Tweddle, praised the Princess’ involvement: “We are very lucky that Princess Alexandra is very supportive of our work onboard and that we were able to show that the project is really progressing. Our visitors are fascinated to see the expert shipwrights at work.”
The HMS Warrior 1860 has a personal significance for Princess Alexandra: the ship acted as an escort for the yacht which brought Alexandra’s great-grandmother (Princess Alexandra of Denmark) to Great Britain for her marriage to the then-Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s heir – who would become Edward VII.
After that voyage in 1863, Alexandra reported to the Admiral Sir Michael Seymour that “she was much pleased” by the ship’s crew; a brass plaque carrying this message was then engraved and displayed on the vessel’s wheel, where it can still be seen today.