HMS Ark Royal name may live on thanks to Prince Charles

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The historic name of Leeds’s very own warship is set to live on.

The name HMS Ark Royal – one of the most prominent in Navy history – will pass to a new aircraft carrier, after an intervention by the Prince of Wales.

The Prince is understood to have privately agreed to allow HMS Prince of Wales, which is under construction, to be renamed Ark Royal, after the former flagship bearing the name was decommissioned.

A senior Navy officer is understood to have approached the Prince, who holds the rank of admiral in the Navy, who said he had no objection to the name change.

A defence source said: “The Prince of Wales has been asked and he is pretty relaxed about it.”

During the Second World War various government-sponsored campains were mounted to encourage people to raise money for the war effort, including Warship Week. In Leeds Warship Week was held on January 30 to February 7 1942.

In November 1941 the city of Leeds decided to adopt the HMS Ark Royal. Just days later the ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean.

The fund-raising objective for Leeds’ Ark Royal Week changed from a target of £3.5m for a replacement hull and some refitting to over £5m for a replacement ship.

A huge march took place down The Headrow, led by the Navy and followed by military vehicles and personnel.

The grand total raised by Leeds was over £9m. Contributions included money sent by children to buy nuts and bolts to sums of £250,000 from businesses to purchase Fulmar naval fighter planes, which cost £5,000 each.

A senior Navy officer said it was virtually unheard of to change the name of a ship that was already being built.

“But this does recognise that the name Ark Royal is iconic. The name conjures up the whole history of these islands and it would represent the future of the Navy and its past,” he said.

Clarence House said no formal approach had been made on the name change.

A Ministry of Defence official said no decision had yet been made on naming the ship, which would be the sixth to be called Ark Royal.

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