It is an enormous honour to be one of only three London Livery Companies affiliated to HMS Queen Elizabeth, the flagship of the Royal Navy’s fleet. On 10th August, in glorious sunshine, a group of Lightmongers joined the Grocers and the Shipwrights and several other affiliated organisations for a day of presentations, military music and guided tours of this floating, armed airport terminal while she is docked at Portsmouth in a break from manoeuvres.
The Rt Honourable the Lord Mayor, Vincent Keaveny and Lady Mayoress, Amanda Keaveny, were also present as was Sheriff Alison Gowman from the City of London Corporation.
Capt Feasey RN welcomed everyone aboard and spoke of his pride in the ship and its young, talented crew. He stressed the importance of engaging with all communities connected directly and indirectly with the ship which existed to serve Her Majesty and the citizens of the country.
The vast hanger was the setting for many of the visit activities and Lightmongers were treated to a presentation that outlined the importance of the world’s oceans for trade and communication and the role of the Royal Navy in maintaining freedom of movement and communication not to mention the important climate research it carries out.
There was plenty time for some fun and ‘dressing up’ as the Lightmongers tried out some of the weapons and uniforms on display.
The Royal Military Band from HMS Collingwood played a medley of songs while marching in time to the delight of guests. Such talented musicians – it was a joy to hear.
Then there was the tour of the ship – out onto the flight deck the size of four football pitches overlooked by two towers, one controlling the aircraft and the other, the ship. Then into the labyrinthine corridors with their almost vertical staircases to see some of the nerve centres of the ship such as the control room and the medical centre. We even had a peep at one of the galleys that can produce meals for 1200 people four times a day. They certainly provided a delicious lunch for the affiliated guests.
Several other affiliated organisations were present including the Grenadier Guards seen here on the flight deck photographing the sister ship the Prince of Wales, docked alongside.
The Affiliation with the Queen Elizabeth continues a long link between Lightmongers and the navy that started with HMS Invincible until she was decommissioned in 2011 and was followed by HMS Illustrious until she was decommissioned in 2014.
The affiliation was facilitated by Honorary Lightmonger, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE who was British Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 2009 to 2012.