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Prince Maurits to attend 350th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of the Medway

His Highness Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven will attend the 350th-anniversary celebrations of the Battle of the Medway on 8 June in the Chatham.

In Upnor Castle, Prince Maurits will open a new exhibition on the Dutch raid on the Medway. Prince Maurits, as a first cousin of King Willem-Alexander, his Aide-de-camp and Commander in the Royal Netherlands Navy, he will inspect the incoming Dutch fleet, consisting of about 40 ships. On the historical shipyard of Chatham, Prince Maurits will reveal a plaque to remember the Battle of the Medway. All festivities carry the theme “From Fire to Friendship”, and the activities will emphasise the friendship between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Under the command of Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, the Dutch fleet sailed into the Medway in June 1667 for an attack on the English war fleet and shipyards. Three capital ships and ten lesser naval vessels were burned. The HMS Unity and the flagship HMS Royal Charles were captured and towed away. HMS Royal Charles was auctioned off for scrap in 1673. Her metal stern piece is still on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  The HMS Unity was actually the Dutch warship Eendracht, which had been captured from the Dutch on 22 February 1665 by the English warships Yarmouth, Diamond and Mermaid.

After this major loss, the English fleet was modernised. The raid was disastrous for King Charles II’s war plans, and it was one of the worst defeats in the history of the Royal Navy. Horace George Franks called it “the most serious defeat it has ever had in its home waters.”

King Charles felt humiliated at the defeat, and just a few years later the Third Anglo-Dutch War began. In 1677, King Charles’s niece Mary married William of Orange and they later jointly ruled England and Scotland as William III and Mary II.


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