Anti-nuclear protesters booed Prince William as he arrived at Westminster Abbey for a service marking 50 years of a submarine-based deterrent. CND demonstrators yelled “Shame on you!” as his limousine drew up. Activist Omar Ahmed, 29, from Nelson, Lancs, said: “I know he feels an association to the military but I’m surprised he would support something that could destroy our planet.”
Protesters lay on the ground in a “die-in” and held banners saying “Blessed be the bomb-makers”. CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “The die-in is symbolic of those who have been killed in a nuclear war.” The Abbey and Ministry of Defence had stressed it was “not a service of thanksgiving or a celebration of nuclear armaments”. Naval chiefs, senior ministers and submariners attended the ceremony, which marked 50 years of Operation Relentless, the “continuous-at-sea deterrence”.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, on her first engagement since replacing Gavin Williamson, said: “This is the longest military operation we have ever undertaken and continues right this minute deep under the sea. “We pay tribute to those incredible crews.”
The operation began in 1969 when Polaris weapons were put on to the Resolution fleet. Four Vanguards are now armed with Trident missiles, with one always at sea.
Those subs will eventually be replaced by Dreadnought-class subs. Ms Mordaunt yesterday confirmed the fourth is to be named King George VI, joining Dreadnought, Valiant and Warspite.