HMS Belfast masts

25 Oct

I was invited to the unveiling of the new masts on the HMS Belfast last week.  HMS Belfast is an old naval ship that is now permanently moored in the River Thames near Tower Bridge.  It was a fantastic event with perfect weather – blue skies, puffy white clouds and enough wind to set the flags flying properly, as well as make you glad you wore a coat!  The Royal Marines brass band played as we all trooped up to the deck.  There were a good number of war veterans, looking very smart with their colourful medals pinned to their chest, and still managing to stand to attention even in their  advancing years.  Not only that, but Prince Philip (Duke of Edinburgh and hubby to the Queen) was there to unveil the plaque.

We were all given black and orange commemorative ribbons to mark the occasion, and listened to speeches by the Chairman of the Board, and the Russian Chief of Staff of the Executive Office of the President of the Russian Federation (deepbreathin) and Chairman of the Board of Sovcomflot, who funded the new masts and looked pleasingly like Daniel Craig.  After this, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in England blessed the new masts which involved a very vigorous beard, a bucket of holy water and a large brush.  He proceeded to liberally splash water over the decks, the plaque, the veterans and one particularly far-flung flick hit me straight in the face.   It was a good job it was a light-hearted occasion because I couldn’t stop laughing after that.  Prince Philip caught my eye and I’m pretty sure we exchanged a knowing smile about the fact that, even on a beautiful sunny autumn day, we managed to get wet.  Typical English weather!  At least I can now consider myself to be well and truly blessed – I’m sure it never hurts!

(Sorry about the poor quality pics – taken on my mobile phone!)

The event was well covered by the UK and Russian media (Shard London Bridge in the background)

Veteran Standard bearers

The new masts on the HMS Belfast

Bugler

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