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Traditional Navy toasts 'updated'

The Royal Navy has changed two of its oldest traditions to reflect "cultural changes" and "the fact that women have been at sea for over 20 years", the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

Officers will no longer say the established Saturday night toast of "Our Wives and Sweethearts", which prompts the unofficial reply of "May they never meet!"

Instead, officers will say "Our Families", in accordance with an instruction from Second Sea Lord Vice-Admiral David Steel in a bid to reflect the changing gender balance of the Senior Service.

The traditional Tuesday night toast to "Our Men" has been changed to "Our Sailors".

A spokesman for the MoD said: "To reflect cultural changes and our modern and inclusive Navy, two of the Naval Toasts, used at mess dinners, have been updated.

"The Royal Navy values the diversity and range of its personnel and it is only right that its traditional toasts should reflect the fact that women have been at sea for over 20 years."

Women have been serving at sea since 1990 but it was only last year when the first female was made commander of a major Royal Navy warship.

It is understood that the traditional toasts take place infrequently - for example at a group dinner when a celebration is taking place or when the ship is at anchor. They do not take place every night.

The toast for Sunday is "Absent Friends", Monday is "Our Ships at Sea", Thursday is "A Bloody War or a Sickly Season", and Friday is "A Willing Foe and Sea-Room".

Wednesday's toast is "Ourselves (As no-one else is likely to concern themselves with our welfare!)".

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