Britain's £3bn 'Big Lizzie' warship sets sail on six-month tour after Queen's flying visit

THE Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail on a six-month tour after the Queen visited to wish the crew good luck.

Hundreds of people gathered to wave off the £3.2bn warship as it left Portsmouth, Hampshire, at dusk.

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The warship – affectionately called "Big Lizzie" – set off from Portsmouth Naval Base for the deployment by the Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Pacific region.

The 28-week-long deployment will cover 26,000 nautical miles.

The group will visit 40 nations including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore.

The Queen beamed yesterday as she visited the warship in her first public appearance since Prince Harry's latest broadside at his "nightmare" life as a royal.

The monarch toured the HMS Queen Elizabeth amid a tumultuous week for the Royal Family.

A source said of her public appearance: "There is a desire from Her Majesty to get out and about to show people that normal life can resume."

The monarch is reportedly "deeply upset" by Harry's "very personal" criticism of the Royal Family, but Prince Charles is said to be keen for a reconciliation.

An unnamed source told the Mail on Sunday: "Harry’s grandmother has taken this very personally and is deeply upset by what Harry has said, in particular his comments about Charles’s parenting and suggesting his father knows no better because of how he was brought up.

"It has been a very upsetting time."

It was also claimed the Queen is set to lead a charm offensive to convince Scotland to remain in the UK after rumblings of independence.

Prince William is currently in Scotland for a seven-day tour, with his wife Kate Middleton to join him.

The monarch herself is back at work despite a tumultuous week for the Royals.

Prince William slammed the BBC for 'tricking' his mother – and just over 24 hours after Prince Harry took yet another potshot at his family as he accused them of "total neglect".

Elsewhere, on an official visit to Scotland hours after Harry's latest claims aired, William admitted "lockdown has tested everyone" – and spoke of his "dark days of grief" after the death of his mum.

But despite the dramatic events of the week, Her Majesty has been characteristically stoic, and smiled broadly at officers as she boarded.

She was wearing a military-style brick red cashmere coat for the miserable May washout – as well as a brooch gifted to her by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip served in the Navy during the Second World War, and was even mentioned in dispatches for his role in the Battle of Cape Matapan.

Yesterday's visit was the Queen's first public engagement since she attended the RAF memorial in Runnymede in March, although earlier this month she conducted the state opening of Parliament.

It comes as:

  • The BBC faces a major shake-up so scandals like Bashir's interview with Diana can never happen again
  • Prince Harry insists his Oprah interview was done ‘compassionately’ to leave room for reconciliation with his family
  • Harry and William’s ‘peace talks’ at Philip’s funeral were ‘doomed to fail’ as ‘Harry had been plotting bombshell doc’, an expert said
  • Prince William has revealed his ‘dark days of grief’ after Diana’s death today
  • Meghan resisted suicidal thoughts because she knew it would be 'unfair' for Harry to lose another woman in his life

She paid her visit to the 65,000-ton ship ahead of its maiden voyage as part of Carrier Strike Group.

The ship, which has 1,700 personnel aboard, saild to the Middle East before F-35 jets are launched to strike at Islamic State targets in Iraq.

The strike group will then sail through the Suez Canal, out to the Indian Ocean and on to the Philippine Sea.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to make a number of port stops along way – including Oman, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

The vessel is the largest and most powerful ship ever constructed in the Navy, with capacity for 40 jets.

However, it last month sprung a leak, which allowed thousands of gallons of salt water to flood in.


Despite the ship's plumbing issues, forces chiefs say its voyage will be the most powerful UK naval deployment in a generation.

Engineering Technician Marine Engineering (ETME) Billie Matthews, 22, from County Durham, was one of those who met the Queen today.

She said: "It was brilliant – she was very chatty, very smiley."

Able seaman Chelsea Paterson, 24, from Chirnside, Scotland, said: "It was incredible – it's an honour to see her, let alone speak to her. It's the highlight of my career."

The monarch, who stepped aboard hours after Boris Johnson met officers, has not made any comment on either of the latest stories to embroil her family.

But despite her dignified silence, she has faced another challenging week.

On Thursday, William blasted the "lurid and false claims" Bashir made to score his infamous 1995 interview with Diana.

The Duke of Cambridge said the lies about the Royal Family “played on her fears and fuelled paranoia” – while brother Harry said the probe was the "first step towards justice" for their mum.

Welcoming Lord Dyson’s bombshell report into how Bashir conned Diana into giving the Panorama interview, and the Corporation’s cover-up into his behaviour, William said: “The findings are extremely concerning.

“It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said.

"The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse. And has since hurt countless others."

The BBC faces losing £3.2bn if the £159-a-year licence fee is slashed in the wake of the report.

And Princess Diana's brother has reportedly called on Scotland Yard to investigate the BBC over the interview.

Earl Spencer is said to have written to Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick alleging his "vulnerable" sister was the victim of blackmail and fraud.

Meanwhile, hours after William's statement was released, a new documentary featuring Harry accusing his family of "total neglect" for his mental health was made available on streaming platforms.

The Duke claimed Charles left him to "suffer" – while Meghan wept into her pillow after she was 'smeared' by The Firm.

Doc The Me You Can't See comes just ten-and-a-half weeks after Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview aired – but features a new slew of complaints at the royals.

Many of the allegations the pair made to Oprah in March are being investigated privately by the family — although the Queen has said “some recollections may vary”.

Sources close to Prince Charles, 72, said he is hurt over being made the villain.

A royal source said: “Father and son relations are at their lowest-ever point.

“Harry says he wants reconciliation, but has clearly decided to ­villainise his father. Charles is just at a loss about what to do.

"Harry doesn’t seem to take into account that parenting styles have radically changed over recent years, especially the role a father plays.

“It’s just so wounding to Charles. He’s a sensitive man and these personal attacks hurt deeply. He can’t understand why Harry is doing this to him.

“He did so much for the wedding and even helped him move to Canada — contrary to what Harry has said.

“Charles is also frustrated that he can’t respond publicly to these accusations and the outlets that Harry is using do not have the burden of a right to reply.

“Harry just has carte blanche to say what he likes about his father while Charles must remain silent.”

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