The recent announcement that the 8th Type 26 Frigate will be named HMS London has been welcomed by many but the ships motto has left many scratching their heads.
Thirteen ships of the Royal Navy have been named London, after the city of London, the city of course having the motto ‘Domine Dirige Nos’, which means ‘God Guide Us’. This motto was used by some of the previous vessels named after the city.
Despite the MoD suggesting in communication to other commentators that the last three vessels did not have ‘God’ in their mottos and that this motto is a continuation of this trend, after a quick check I have verified that the last three vessels to bear the name HMS London used both ‘Dirige Nos’ and ‘Domine Dirige Nos’ depending on source and time period. The motto of the thirteenth HMS London however is simply ‘Dirige Nos’, which means ‘Guide Us’.
THREAD: Delighted that at this evening’s Lord Mayor’s Banquet, @theresa_may will announce that our 8th new Type 26 Frigate will bear the name our nation’s capital. @10DowningStreet pic.twitter.com/hwqBpnYDt5
— First Sea Lord (@AdmPhilipJones) November 12, 2018
Dug further with Naval Historical Branch – this is the original sealed pattern incl motto endorsed by Admiralty Board in 1926. Surely authoritative? So sources adding ‘Domine’ subsequently were historically inaccurate – understandable mistake though it may be. @UKDefJournal pic.twitter.com/b7SFVATWQJ
— Steve H (@Steve__SH) November 14, 2018
The first paragraph is both inaccurate and irrelevant. This 1976 letterhead definitely has Domine on which seems to contradict your source. Does it really matter? Possibly not, but as usual it’s curious how quickly everyone becomes an expert. pic.twitter.com/i6W9O9v2L0
— Simon Harley (@simonharley) November 14, 2018
Basically both have been used and this isn't a thing.
— Engaging Strategy (@EngageStrategy1) November 14, 2018
The rise in people having ‘no religion’ (irreligion) was confirmed in the UK’s 2011 census, which saw irreligion rise from 7.7 million in 2001 to 14.1 million, a rise of 10.3 percentage points. According to the 2011 census, 25% of England has no religion, 7% of Northern Ireland, one third in Scotland and one-third of Wales.
According to YouGov, Christianity is perceived to be on the decline. Additionally, Mori Polls have shown that British Christians support a secular state. Britons are amongst the most skeptical about religion, with most people under the age of 25 now identifying as non-religious.
That being said, is this really a good enough reason to change the historical motto of a proud Royal Navy name, a motto taken from a major, global city? Much of the UK Defence Journal team are non-religious too. Religion and history however, are intertwined and to separate them like this seems like an odd move.
The well respected defence commentator Sir Humphrey has discussed this in far greater detail than I at ‘The Thin Pinstriped Line’ website, which can be found here. It’s certainly worth a read.