Freedom of the City parade for HMS Prince of Wales

Almost 300 servicemen and women will march through the centre of Bristol on Saturday 10th June as the Royal Navy’s latest and largest warship, HMS Prince of Wales, is granted the Freedom of the City.

The event will begin with the Lord Mayor of Bristol presenting a Freedom Scroll at a ceremony on College Green. Then, led by His Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines from Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, 275 sailors will march through the city to exercise the freedom rights, before returning to College Green, where there will be a blessing in Bristol Cathedral.

The ship is a fifth-generation Aircraft Carrier and one of the most powerful surface warships ever built in the UK with additional roles that include disaster relief, humanitarian aid and diplomacy. HMS Prince of Wales weighs-in at 65,000 tonnes with a crew of over 700; and with a flight deck that measures 280 metres long and 70 metres wide, the ship can accommodate 36 fighter jets and four Merlin helicopters.

The City and County of Bristol has been affiliated with the ship since 2016, an honour shared with Liverpool, and the relationship will last for 50 years. The link was re-affirmed in March this year, when the Freedom of the City was accepted by Captain Richard Hewitt OBE, on behalf of the Royal Navy and the ship’s company.

Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Paul Goggin said: “It was an honour for Bristol to grant the Ship’s Company the Freedom of the City. I am delighted to celebrate the close bond Bristol has with the HMS Prince of Wales, and people across the city look forward to strengthening our ties with them. I look forward to welcoming them with open arms on June 10th.”

Captain Richard Hewitt OBE, Commanding Officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said: “Being able to exercise the Freedom of the City of Bristol is a significant honour for us. Bristol has a great maritime heritage and I know our sailors are looking forward to being on parade through the city. This will support the continued strong relationships between generations of Royal Navy sailors in HMS Prince of Wales and the City of Bristol over the next 50 years.”

Honorary Royal Navy Captain Peaches Golding OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of The County and City of Bristol, said: “This ceremony and the awarding of the Freedom of the City are potent symbols of the close ties that exist between Bristol and our nation’s armed forces.”

SMV is one of several sponsors helping to support the event in Bristol on 10th June, following its sponsorship of the refurbishment of the ‘Bristol Suite’ aboard HMS Prince of Wales last year.