Queen’s touching Prince Philip tribute in first solo appearance since his death

The Queen wore a gift from her late husband for her first solo engagement as a widow to visit the crew of the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Her Majesty's visit to meet aircraft carrier crew in Portsmouth on Saturday was the first official trip she has made since the passing of Prince Philip last month.

In a fitting tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh who gave up his career in the Royal Navy when she ascended the throne, the Queen wore a Scarab Brooch which was a gift from him.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse and Captain Angus Essenhigh were the first to meet the Queen who landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth via a helicopter.

The Queen, flanked by two F-35B fighter jets, was wearing a brick red cashmere coat in a military style with a black velvet collar and buttons, a crepe wool dress by Stewart Parvin and a Trevor-Morgan hat.

Her Majesty was shown a map highlighting the route the ship will take during her 26,000 mile, seven-month deployment to the Far East.

The Queen met Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines personnel as well as some of the 250 US marines on board who will be serving alongside their UK counterparts.

Looking at the size of the 4.5acre ship, Her Majesty commented: "There’s plenty of room on board."

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Paul, a father of six, said: "The Queen certainly had a sparkle in her eye when she heard that Morgan and I were father and son and we are both serving on board at the same time. I think she liked that. I told her I was very proud.

"My youngest son is now getting a taste for joining the services, too, but he is thinking of the Army so I still need to persuade him over to the Navy."

When presenting a medal for long service and good conduct for 15 years in the Royal Navy to Petty Officer Matthew Ready, 33, the Queen was told he had served on HMS Illustrious during a disaster relief mission to help those hit by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

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"The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were coming on board HMS Illustrious once when we had an accident with an aircraft on board. The Queen remembered it and said: 'I hope that wasn’t you or I shall have to ask for the medal back.'"

Conversations with sailors recalled memories of the Queen’s own travels.

Matthew Jones, 33, a leading seaman and maritime logistics chef currently on exchange from the Royal Australian Navy, told Her Majesty that his father, John Hones, had cooked for her and the Duke of Edinburgh on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.

He said: "I told her of a story he told me that when he was trying to use a pipe to make the call you do when dignitaries come aboard, the Queen gave him the tip that he needed to puff his cheeks out."

When meeting a US Navy commander Andrew Plumber, from Hawaii, he asked if Her Majesty had ever visited.

He said: "The Queen told me that she had been there and that it was lovely. I said I was on board for my knowledge of the Pacific and she said 'You’ll be busy over there.' I said we would because the regional navies would keep us on our toes."

Saturday’s engagement is the first in a series of high-profile in-person engagement the Queen will undertake in the coming weeks and is said to be enthusiastic to return to in-person visits after the covid lockdown.

The departure for HMS Queen Elizabeth is scheduled for 9.30pm on Saturday, weather conditions permitting.

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