The Queen – and her warship – stand ready to rise to the challenge

The Queen’s final official duty before retiring to Windsor Castle due to the Coronavirus outbreak was to host the captains of her warship.

As part of Her Majesty’s Audiences, she welcomed Commodore Steve Moorhouse and Captain Angus Essenhigh – previous and current Commanding Officers of HMS Queen Elizabeth – to Buckingham Palace for a chat about the activities of the future flagship and her 700 men and women.

The Queen is the Official Sponsor of the 65,000-tonne strike carrier. She formally named the ship in Rosyth in the summer of 2014 and was guest of honour at the commissioning ceremony in November 2017.

It’s the duty of all warships to keep their Lady Sponsors appraised of progress, by hosting them aboard, providing regular reports, or in this case, enjoy an invitation to the sponsor’s residence.

Cdre Moorhouse outlined the achievements of the Portsmouth-based warship last autumn and her training with Navy and RAF pilots in UK F-35 Lightning strike fighters off the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and Capt Essenhigh, who took over from Cdre Moorhouse in January, explained the work currently taking place aboard the carrier – including recent trials with the same stealth jets in UK waters for the first time – and the road which lies ahead for her men and women.

It was most gracious of Her Majesty to grant us an audience and allow us to update our sponsor on our recent progress, as well as preparations for our global deployment in 2021

Commodore Moorhouse

After the reception for the naval officers, the Queen joined the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor for Easter Court, a week earlier than planned, as a precaution.

From there she issued an official statement to reassure the nation:

“At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.

“I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her ship’s company also stand ready – alongside the rest of the Royal Navy and Armed Forces – to provide military aid to the civilian authorities in the current crisis.

“We onboard stand by, as always, to protect and assist the people of our great nation,” said Capt Essenhigh. “United we will conquer.”