The Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to the ‘continued resilience’ of the Royal Navy’s submariners and their families as he unveiled a new memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.
William gave a short speech on the Submarine Service during the unveiling ceremony at the Staffordshire site on Wednesday, in which he said: ‘You would be hard-pressed to find a more challenging environment to serve in.’
The duke spoke of how the new monument ‘harnesses in physical form the struggles this life of service can lead to’, before cutting a ribbon to officially unveil it.
During his visit, William met with submariners, veterans, and some of their families, including that of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, who was murdered on HMS Astute after it docked in Southampton in April 2011.
The Duke also spent time with widowed Diana Mayes, 100, whose first husband Lt Gordon Noll, then 25, was Commanding Officer of HMS Untamed, and died alongside his crew in the Clyde in May 1943.
He showed a more relaxed and informal approach, laying a consoling hand on her arm after last week hugging a royal fan he met in Scotland who was overcome with emotion at meeting the Duke.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, William said: ‘The Submarine Service has, for over 120 years, been at the forefront of our nation’s defence.
However, to many it is an invisible force which is so often out of sight and out of mind.
‘The risks and the sacrifices associated with such service are clear, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more challenging environment to serve in.
‘It is however within this environment that some of our best men and women work, and live.
‘All of you will in some way be familiar with the long periods of separation, the lack of contact with loved ones, and the uncertainty of what the next day holds.
‘It is because of the continued resilience in the face of such challenges that we are gathered here now.
‘With this memorial, we are not only providing a focal point for today’s submarine community, but also a moving tribute to the memory of lost shipmates and loved ones, and a place for people to come and remember them.’
A competition was launched in 2020 to help design the new memorial and William cut the ribbon to unveil it with those responsible for the winning designs.
The duke continued: ‘Inspired by the competition winners and their ideas, Paul Day has created a truly fitting memorial to those lost, and sadly, to those who may give their lives in years to come.
‘This memorial beautifully captures all elements of the world in which you live, whether in service or in support at home.
‘It harnesses in physical form the struggles this life of service can lead to, the loneliness of separation, the expectation of return, and the fortitude your way of life demands.’
He added: ‘It is a great testament to the spirit of this indomitable community that everyone came together to make the image of this memorial a reality.
‘To those serving, our veterans, the families, and the submarine industries, you have my heartfelt thanks for donating, no matter the amount.’
Meanwhile, the Duke’s wife Kate was on duty at Buckingham Palace, hosting a garden party with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princess Alexandra.
The trio stood in for the Queen, 96, who traditionally oversees four garden parties each summer but has bowed out of this year’s engagements amid ongoing mobility issues.
The annual garden parties, which are held between Buckingham Palace and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, are a way for the monarch to celebrate and reward those who have distinguished themselves in public service. They require the royal hosts to spend more than an hour on their feet as they make their way through the crowd.
The Queen, who will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee next month, is increasingly relying on senior royals including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William to stand in her stead at high profile engagements.
Yesterday the Queen was joined by Prince Edward as she made a surprise appearance at the opening of the Elizabeth Line at Paddington Station, a week after she missed the State Opening of Parliament.
Looking every inch the future queen consort, Kate, 40, beamed as she made her way through the crowd of people on the lawn of Buckingham Palace this afternoon, stopping to chat to some of the invited guests.
Following the Queen’s tip of dressing to stand out from the crowd, the Duchess opted for an Emilia Wickstead dress in an eye-catching shade of coral.
The flattering knee-length frock, which features long sleeves, a sharp collar and band at the waist, is a version of a sky blue design worn by the duchess on a number of previous occasions.
Kate, who is known for her love of colour-blocking, paired the piece with pink suede point toe pumps and added a hat in a matching shade. She finished the look with a beaded clutch bag that brought a touch of sparkle.