Queen bids farewell to Ark Royal
The Queen has said farewell to the Royal Navy flagship HMS Ark Royal.
The aircraft carrier, which is in its 25th year, is to be taken out of service imminently in the wake of the defence review cuts announced last month.
The decision, along with the early retirement of the Harrier jets, will leave the navy without the capability of launching fixed-wing aircraft from a carrier until replacement ships and aircraft come into service in up to 10 years' time.
The Queen, who travelled down to Portsmouth on a standard passenger train from London Waterloo, which arrived late, was met by the ship's commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd at Portsmouth Naval Base in front of a gathering of the ship's company and their families.
She then took a royal salute, inspected a guard of honour and attended a service of commemoration before going onboard.
Capt Kyd said: "This event, the 25th anniversary, has been planned for many, many months to celebrate 25 years of loyal service to Queen and country.
"Following the recent announcement that Ark Royal is sadly going to be paid off three years early this event has taken on an added poignancy and we are blessed the Queen is coming down given the news two weeks ago that the Ark Royal is going to be decommissioned.
"This was a shock to us all. We understand the reason for it. However, my ship's company, who are incredibly dedicated and professional, are absolutely loyal to their ship and this decision is a real emotional blow to them.
"But there is a future with our other ships and we will welcome in our new aircraft carriers in four years' time."
Capt Kyd could not guarantee there would not be redundancies among his crew.