HMS George VI, arriving
The Royal Navy is a stickler for recycling historic names.
For instance, there have been five Ark Royals since 1587, four Argonaughts since 1782, four Bellerophons since 1786, as well as 10 Medusas, 11 Vanguards, and no less than 13 Revenges. Then, there are vessels named after monarchs, their offices and their important offspring such as the five HMS Black Prince(s) since 1650, a half-dozen HMS Prince of Wales since 1765, and three HMS Queen Elizabeth(s.)
New to the Royal Navy’s list will be the first HMS King George VI.
Announced on 3 May, the name will be given to the fourth of the planned Dreadnought-class ballistic missile submarine.
“Notwithstanding the long tradition of naming Royal Navy capital ships after our country’s monarchs, to-date no previous warship has been named King George VI; it was not appropriate to do so during His reign as the battleship King George V was still in service,” First Sea Lord Admiral Philip Jones said.
Of course, before he took the throne, George, then Prince Albert, was educated at the Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth before shipping out on the old cruiser HMS Cumberland as a mid in 1913.
During WWI, he served on the St Vincent-class dreadnought HMS Collingwood, seeing action at Jutland. He later became a military pilot and only took the throne as a somewhat reluctant king in 1936 after Edward VIII unexpectedly abdicated.
As such, it makes sense that one of the RN’s ultimate capital ships, much more powerful than any battleship ever fielded, should be named after a monarch who fought in the world’s greatest battleship clash.