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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Queen presents fleet with Colour
Prince Philip on Plymouth Hoe
About 2,000 people waited to see the royal couple on the Hoe
Her Majesty the Queen has presented the Royal Navy with a new Colour in Devon.

The ceremony took place on the flight deck of the navy's largest vessel, helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, in front of the ship's company while the vessel was moored in Plymouth Sound.

A gathering of another 17 warships in the Sound for the presentation was the biggest to be seen in the city since 1905, when 35 vessels marked the official birthday of King Edward VII.

Thousands of people gathered on Plymouth Hoe to witness the ceremony, the first since 1969, via giant television screens.

Following the ceremony the Queen returned by launch to the mainland, alighting at the Mayflower steps on the historic Barbican.

She paid a short visit to a Royal Marine base at The Citadel, where she symbolically touched the key to the fortification.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh then met around 250 members of families of service personnel serving on the ships of the fleet who had gathered for Wednesday's ceremony.

The royal couple then went on a walk-about on Plymouth Hoe where about 2,000 people had waited in the wind and rain to cheer them.

The couple went on to Queen Anne's Battery, where the Queen was officially naming a new lifeboat, the 2m Sybil Mullen Glover, and meeting members of the crew.

Earlier in the day the Chaplain of the Fleet consecrated the new Colour in a special service, which included a minute's silence for those who have lost their lives serving the country.

After this, the Queen, who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh to HMS Ocean, then presented the new Colour to the fleet.

The Queen presents the Colour - PA
Her Majesty presented to the Colour to the Royal Navy on HMS Ocean

The Queen has approved the navy's use of the Colour - known as the Queen's Colour - which is a double-folded silk White Ensign.

The flag bears a crown and Royal Cypher, with gold and blue silk cord and gold tassels hanging from the ensign staff.

Unlike the Colours of the British Army, which carry battle honours and vary in design from regiment to regiment, the Colour of the Royal Navy does not alter from command to command.

The last time a Colour was presented to the fleet was in Torbay in 1969.

The new Colour will be kept at Fleet HQ in Northwood, Middlesex.

The old ensign will be placed in St Nicholas Church at HMS Drake in Plymouth.

The BBC's Jennie Bond
"The Queen paid a personal tribute to those who had lost their lives in the Gulf"

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21 Jul 03  |  Devon
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New Colour for naval fleet
21 May 03  |  Devon


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