Queen Elizabeth Watched Britain's Most Expensive Aircraft Carrier Start Its Service

HMS Queen Elizabeth—the ship—has been welcomed into the royal navy by Queen Elizabeth II—the Queen—in a commissioning ceremony to start the service of Britain's most expensive vessel ever.

On December 7, in a visit to the HM naval base, Portsmouth, the Queen boarded the ship and walked its hangar deck in front of a 3,700-strong crowd.

Dressed in a resplendent purple suit, the Queen received a royal salute, listened to a rendition of the national anthem, and inspected her royal guard of troops.

Queen Elizabeth Portsmouth Aircraft Carrier
Queen Elizabeth II attends the Commissioning Ceremony of HMS Queen Elizabeth at HM Naval Base on December 7, 2017 in Portsmouth. Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty Images

She also got to take a look at a lovely cake in the shape of the ship:

"At the forefront of these responsibilities will be the men and women of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, supported by the Army, Royal Air Force and by coalition partners," the Queen said, according to the BBC.

"As the daughter, wife and mother of naval officers, I recognise the unique demands our nation asks of you and I will always value my special link to HMS Queen Elizabeth, her ship's company and their families."

Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes and built as one of a pair that together will cost over £6 billion, the ship and its sister vessel the HMS Prince of Wales are the most expensive in British naval history.

The new craft, which will be ready for full deployment in 2021, have been hailed by the government as a sign of Britain's continued clout on the world stage.

But critics have questioned the wisdom of spending so much of a limited defense budget on one part of the armed forces. Michael Clarke, the then-director of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, told the BBC in 2014 that "it means putting a lot of eggs in one basket."