Diocese of Portsmouth

    Royal visitor to honour 100 years of women in the Navy

    2 Nov. 2017

    A ROYAL visitor will help us to mark 100 years since the creation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

    HRH Princess Anne will attend a service of thanksgiving in our cathedral as part of the centenary celebrations. The event will also celebrate the continuing role of women in the Naval Services.

    Around 1,000 people, including former members of the WRNS – known as Wrens – and serving naval personnel will attend, along with those whose family members were Wrens.

    The service, at 2.30pm on November 4, will include the dedication of a commemorative stone which will become a permanent part of the cathedral landscape. It will commemorate both 100 years since the formation of the WRNS and women’s service in the Royal Navy.

    The service will incorporate stories of former members of the Women's Royal Naval Service and their involvement in the Royal Navy during both World Wars and since 1945. A book of Remembrance, listing the names of women who died serving their country, will also be presented.

    HRH the Princess Royal will read one of the Bible readings during the service, and unveil the commemorative stone with the dean of our cathedral, the Very Rev David Brindley, and the Bishop to the Forces, the Rt Rev Tim Thornton.

    The Chaplain of the Fleet, the Ven Ian Wheatley, who is also an honorary canon of our cathedral, will preach. 

    NB: The service, which is ticket-only, is already full to capacity.

    The Very Rev David Brindley said: “As we are the cathedral of the Sea, and our history is so closely intertwined with the history of the Royal Navy, we are delighted to host this wonderful occasion.

    “The role of the WRNS and women in the Naval Services is worth celebrating, and it’s entirely appropriate for a permanent reminder of their significance to be part of our cathedral landscape.”

    The WRNS was created in 1917, disbanded at the end of the First World War and re-started in 1939. It remained active until it was integrated into the Royal Navy in 1993. HRH the Princess Royal is Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy, and patron of the Association of Wrens.

    The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is among those that have contributed to the cost of the commemorative stone. It was designed out of a single block of Portland stone and features carvings of caps and hats worn by former Wrens and serving naval officers.

    After the service on November 4, congregation members will enjoy afternoon tea at Portsmouth Guildhall. Many ex-Wrens will be in the city as part of a reunion weekend, staying in Mill Rythe on Hayling Island. And the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in the Historic Dockyard, is marking the centenary will an exhibition on ‘Women and the Navy’.

    The cathedral service is one of several events taking place during 2017 to mark the centenary. The Scottish celebration later this month includes dinner on the Royal Yacht Britannia. For more details, see www.wrns100.co.uk