What's In A Name? The Weird World Of Christening Ships

The Royal Navy announced today that Camilla will be naming new aircraft carrier the HMS Prince of Wales on the 8th September.


The Royal Navy announced today that Her Royal Highness, The Duchess Of Cornwall will be naming the new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales on the 8th September.

It might seem strange that it is Camilla, rather than Charles who will be christening his namesake ship.

But according to tradition, the ship must be named by a woman.

The ceremonial naming of a ship is an event deeply rooted in tradition - which isn’t surprising considering that the Royal Navy itself dates back to 1546.

The ship naming ceremony is held to bring good fortune and safety to the new ship, its crew, and passengers.

HMS Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth At Her Naming Ceremony

Ship christening itself can be traced back to the earliest civilisations that took to the water.

The first ship christening dates back as far as 3000 BC; during the Babylonian period, they would sacrifice Oxen at the launch of a new ship.

The Vikings also used to make sacrifices to ensure the safe passage of their vessels.

In Medieval England, ships had religious shrines on board to promote the blessings of the Catholic saints they then worshipped, and they would pour out libations of wine in order to appease them.

During the modern ceremony, Camilla, who is known as the Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, will speak the words:

"I name this ship the HMS Prince of Wales, may God bless her and all who sail in her."


She will then cut a ribbon on the highly decorated ship, and smash a bottle of Champagne over its bow - the modern-day equivalent of libations.

As the Champagne bottle smashes, drums will sound, and a band will begin playing music.

When it comes to renaming a boat, things get a little more complicated…

Maritime superstition states that should you fail to properly rename your boat, then you are doomed to a lifetime of bad luck.

This is because, according to legend, the name of every vessel is recorded by the ‘Leger of the Deep’, a close personal friend of Neptune, God of the Sea.

To fail to notify Neptune of a change in the ship’s name will invoke his wrath, so all traces of the boat’s previous name must be removed, not just from the vessel herself, but from documents, badges and receipts.

A second ceremony must then be carried out to rechristen the ship.

Impressive Super Structure Installed On HMS Prince Of Wales
HMS Prince Of Wales In Construction