Princess Alexandra visited HMS Warrior 1860 on Thursday – Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship.
The Queen’s first cousin, who is Patron of HMS Warrior, was given a tour of the battleship turned museum, before enjoying tea and cake.
The royal visit marks the 30th anniversary of the Victorian ship’s return to Portsmouth.
Her Royal Highness last visited HMS Warrior in 2015 when the ship was about to undergo the vital restoration works.
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the project £2.6 million which will help bring the ship back into the majestic structure it was back in its prime. Repairs are also being conducted on the outer body of HMS Warrior which suffered great damage from weathering.
During her visit on Thursday afternoon, the 80-year-old royal was given a briefing on how the restoration is doing. The 18-month project is expected to be complete by Easter 2018.
Following discussions, Her Royal Highness enjoyed tea and cake with staff, volunteers and trustees to celebrate the anniversary.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said: “We are very lucky that HRH Princess Alexandra is very supportive of our work onboard and that we were able to show that the project is really progressing. Our visitors are fascinated to see the expert shipwrights at work.”
Royal connections with the HMS Warrior 1860 have been longstanding. In March 1863, Warrior escorted the royal yacht that bought Her Royal Highness’ great grandmother, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, to Britain to marry the Prince of Wales. Princess Alexandra of Denmark requested that the Admiral Sir Michael Seymour convey that “she was much pleased” with the conduct of the ship’s crew. The message was engraved on a brass plate fitted to the ship’s wheel and can still be seen there today.
As described on HMS Warrior’s website, the ship was launched in 1860, ‘at a time of empire and Britain’s dominance in trade and industry, Warrior was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet.’
The website reads: “She was the largest, fastest and most powerful warship of her day and had a lasting influence on naval architecture and design. Work and life on board reflected both the changes the Royal Navy experienced as it evolved into a professional service and shifts in Victorian society.
“Built to counter the latest French battleship, Warrior was, in her time, the ultimate deterrent. Yet by igniting a new era in naval technology, she soon became outdated. After 22 years’ service, Warrior’s hull was to be used as a depot, floating school and an oil jetty.
“Painstakingly restored in Hartlepool and back home in Portsmouth since 1987, Warrior is a unique survivor of the once formidable Victorian Black Battlefleet and now serves as a museum ship, visitor attraction, popular private hire venue and more.”