The name HMS Queen Elizabeth is a continuation of an historic Royal Navy name dating back over a century and the vessel herself is not named after the current monarch, despite a popular misconception to the contrary.

While this is not a surprise to anyone, it’s been well publicised, we believe it important to clear up any doubt on this matter.

The first Queen Elizabeth, named in honour of Elizabeth I of England, was launched in 1913 and entered service in January 1915 during the First World War.

Speaking to a contact of ours within the Royal Navy currently serving on-board we were told:

“The carrier isn’t named after her majesty, she’s named after the first Queen Elizabeth from Tudor times, it’s also why our crest is the Tudor rose.

Our ship is named for previous ships with the same name, it’s why we carry the honours associated with that name. The original HMS Queen Elizabeth as pointed out, was named for Queen Elizabeth the first, not Second.”

It’s a fairly easy mistake to make, HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth the Second, her naming ceremony was also lead by Queen Elizabeth the Second. Even a recent Royal Navy news story had, at first glance, appeared to suggest that the carrier was named for Queen Elizabeth the second.

The article, found here, said:

“Her Majesty the Queen will formally commission her namesake aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, into the Royal Navy fleet in just three weeks’ time.”

We spoke to a Royal Navy communications officer who cleared up the usage of the word ‘namesake’ here, he told us:

“‘Namesake’ does not mean we are saying it’s named after Elizabeth II specifically, it means something has the same name, which it does. I will look to make the connection (or lack of) clearer in future stories.”

The aircraft carrier keeps the original 1913 battleships ship crest – a red and silver Tudor rose (the ship is named after Elizabeth I after all) – and the motto – semper eadem (always the same).

Image result for hms queen elizabeth ship's crest

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I’m annoyed the second of the class isn’t named Ark Royal.


I agree


I’ve mentioned in the past that Ark Royal is to the Royal Navy what Enterprise is to the US Navy; while Prince of Wales is a name with history, it does seem like a missed opportunity to mirror what the Americans did, and declare a new ship to continue the name of the old…

andy reeves

do we even need the armed forces read this interesting article Lastly we have the third tier of threats, the least serious. The first is “a large-scale conventional military attack on Britain” by an unspecified other state. The second, somewhat desperately, is terrorism again, the third is crime again. The authors clearly ran out of threats, but had to fill their threat quota. We are also threatened by immigrants and smugglers “trying to cross the UK border”. We are “threatened” by an accident at a nuclear site; by a conventional attack on a Nato ally, and by an attack on… Read more »

andy reeves
Daniele Mandelli

I looked at the paper publishing it and that was it Andy.

The day other nations around the world dispose of their military unilaterally then the UK can too. Til then.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, but come on. As the RN’s biggest ever ship entering service in the final years of our longest serving and arguably greatest monarchs life it should be named after the current Queen in my opinion.
Would be a fine tribute to a remarkable monarch.
Personally I hope this misconception continues!

Alan Reid

Never mind Queen Elizabeth II, we’re still waiting on a capital ship named after her old dad!
In the past, we’ve had HMS King George V (KGV), HMS King Edward VII, HMS Victoria ……
How about calling one of the Successor class, “HMS King George VI” !?!
The navy buffs on this forum will know for sure, but I think there’s also a tradition of naming the first capital ship of a new reign after the monarch …..
HMS King Charles III anyone ????

Bloke down the pub

That was pretty much my thoughts too. George VI led the UK through WW2 as much as WSC did, so some sort of recognition for the Queen’s father is long overdue.


Then again, George VI asked that the King George V class Battleships were named for his father and brother, and only at the 3rd of the 5, Duke of York was one named for him. At least that is how the story seems to go.

Stephen G.

Henry VIII was a bold and manly King of England, England’s last warrior King, and established the Royal Navy, if his daughter deserves a ship named after her so does he. Edward I and Richard Lionheart are two other great English warrior Kings who deserve Royal Navy ships named after them.

Alan Reid

Hi Stephen, If you’re getting Edward I, “Hammer of the Scots”, then up here, we’ll need to insist on an “HMS King Robert the Bruce”! LOL


Nice one Alan that made me smile. However I have to say that the navy or whoever can say it as much as they like, but it is at the very, very least a coincidence that they could not resist. Lets be honest with all the names available and I suspect 20 or 30 plus have been mentioned on here alone on various pages, how are we seriously to believe that these two ships are call Queen Elizabeth and PoW to be purely coincidentally. The same thing was said of the QE2 though ironically the Queen it is said thought… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Spy, Thanks for a great post. Like you, I suspect “politics” at work and the Navy using every means at their disposal to avoid a potential cancellation, including an association with the current monarch. (Not that it worked in the 1960s!) In the project’s period of greatest threat during 2010, it’s reported that Cameron & Osborne wanted to cancel POW, but the contract was pretty water-tight. You can argue that both names have a bad history: the last HMS Queen Elizabeth was sunk by Italian frogmen in Alexandria harbour during late-1941, and we all know what happened to the… Read more »


Never really thought about the name before, but of course Queen Elizabeth 1 was Queen of England not Scotland, so QE2 is QE2 of England and Wales, but QE1 of Scotland. Don’t see much about that any more thank goodness, ecept for historical accuracy. As for names of warships, if they are propogated to celebrate naval victories like Ark Royal against the Spanish Armada, it’s England basically had a navy, then the UK, so it seems reasonable to call them after them. Hearts of Oak and all that. HMS William Wallace would be a bit of a strange name all… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi dadsarmy
Quick search on Goggle revealed, there has indeed been an HMS Wallace! And unsurprisingly, the ship had a great fighting career!

Personally, like many Scots, I call the current queen – Elizabeth I, Queen of Scots. But after the controversy over her naming, I think the convention arrived at is for the monarch to take the next number in the Anglo/Scottish series … so any British “King Robert” will be known as King Robert IV (because the Scots have already had three sovereigns of that name).


Hi Alan,
Excellent, so she has, and an illustrious career as well. Curiously I don’t know much about the North Sea convoys, more the Arctic and Malta ones (and North Atlantic). Must have mised her in the Sicily landings. I think that page got this wrong though: “Motto: Pro Patria, “For the Fatherland” ” – should be country 🙂

The RN do try to be inclusive.


Ha, that’s funny I said that, found this:

HMS WALLACE spent most of her war service escorting North Sea convoys and like others deployed for this essential service received little publicity.

I think I’m going to have a little research and reading to do 🙂

Alan Reid

Hi dads, looks like you have a new project!


Well Alan, when I were but a lad, I read every book in the library, and then more as well, not just naval battles but the convoys (as well as air and land). Doesn’t really ring a bell. I guess the likes of the Malta, Atlantic and Arctic / Russian convoys were more “glamorous”, so nobody bothered with East coast stuff. Sad, and it makes me wonder if they were properly honoured. It took decades for the sailors both Merchant and RN to be properly honoured for the Russian Convoys because of the cold war (Russia DID honour them). Googling… Read more »

Ben P

HMS Dreadnought was a fitting name considering it was the name of our first modern battleship and first nuclear powered submarine. Two very powerful and game changing vessels.


As you might see from the comments people have varying opinions on what it should have been called. But in the end no matter what was chosen it would have annoyed others. HMS Queen Elizabeth is a fine name with a fine history, And whilst it is always denied it will always be a homage to the current Queen Elizabeth through all the years of its service. Prince of Wales is alright. I only really like it because it dispels the notion that just because the last ship to hear it’s name sank does not mean that it’s shamed or… Read more »


Sailed with a gentleman who was always talking about his time in ‘the Old QE’. Obviously a happy ship and well liked by the crew.

Mark B

Fine words butter no parsnips

Benjamin Rule

Wonder what the Scots think about a ship named after a purely English queen, although with the first three type 26 frigates named Belfast, Cardiff and Glasgow maybe it just evens things out.


Ark Royal for the second of class. Not that spineless, interfering, two-faced git.

Steve M

I would imagine Prince of Wales is named after the title not the person.


You are, of course, absolutely correct. The ship is named after the title, not any individual holder of said title.


Of course we believe that line too. Geez the dice must have been lucky that day when naming those ships. At least it has had 6 previous ships however to back up the line though only 3 of any significance I note. Personally I don’t like Royal names in this day and age just becomes a little too Disney for my taste and reverential if we are to appeal to new recruits but what is is I guess and at least the crests look good. If the first ship is truly Elizabeth I then to represent a new line of… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

Its called the ROYAL navy be pretty stupid not to have royal names on ships in this “day and age”. Also a lot of sailors young and old take pride in their ship name, plus I doubt recruits care. What should we call them then HMS David Beckham.

Geoffrey Roach

Says someone who has achieved what exactly?


As far as I am aware there has never been a Royal Navy ship bearing the name HMS Leicester City. The Royal Navy suggested it once many years ago but the then City Council declined the connection to the frustration of many.

However it’s good to know that the ship’s motto, “Always the Same” happens also to be the City of Leicester’s motto too. It’s great to have that connection to this great ship.

Barry White

Bear in mind the the first Queen Elizabeth was the leader at the time of our expansion to becoming a world power so i personally dont have a problem with that
Unfortunately the present queen has the misfortune of our power going in the opposite way (although i do know she has no say in the matter)

Alan Reid

To me, HMS Ark Royal will always be the big-fleet carrier of the Cold War and the “Sailor” documentary. (The later small Invincible-class vessel barely registered).
I’m all for HMS Prince of Wales; it’s got a bit of gravitas – and maybe it’s time to let a new tradition grow.

Mr J Bell

Agree should be named QE 2


QE2 is the name of a retired cruise liner, just to add a bit more confusion.
I don’t mind either name for the ships, the most important thing is we are getting two impressive new carriers and a resurgence in Royal Navy capability.

Barry White

Getting two new carriers yes but what about the escorts?

Daniele Mandelli

Perhaps 2 x T26, 1 or 2 x 45 and whatever NATO / the USA add to that.

RN does not have the money for both.

If the 45’s and 26’s are primarily assigned to this role as alluded by 1SL instead of deploying singly on various roles around the world would we have enough if a third of each was assigned at any one time?

6-8 T26 2 assigned any one time.
6 T45 1 or 2 assigned any one time.
Plus occasional SSN.

What would be a suitable escort force?


In the days when we had two operational fleet carriers, I was once told by a FAA PO that the reason Ark Royal seemed to get all the publicity and the Eagle remained almost anonymous, was that Ark Royal was gin palace, whereas the Eagle was just a fighting ship!


I forgot about Eagle I always loved that name when I grew up maybe cause we all read the comic back then and the name stuck in the mind. That would have been my choice I now realise. Illustrious was my second choice and Ark Royal only third I think at least till I began to read up on the history. Sadly I guess the latter two and Invincible have now been tainted by the previous class of through deck cruisers (yuk) and not the image they want to give to the new ones. Why has there never been an… Read more »


I’ve corrected the wiki entry once and it get a changed back

Gordon Murray

Exactly, just as HMS Prince of Wales is not named after HRH Prince Charles even though Queen Elizabeth of England had no Prince of Wales during her reign. Of course Elizabeth 1st was the Tudor queen of England(&Wales). As Scotland where these warships were built has never had a previous Queen Elizabeth, and neither has the United Kingdom of Great Britain or the Commonwealth, it would be a terrible insult to all of those to name a Royal Navy flagship after a sovereign before their time. Oh they did? Maybe that is why England is going to be left without… Read more »


The Commonwealth has grown in recent years with even former French colonies jumping on the bandwagon so don’t see that happening.

But you are right in your main thrust if it is named after Elizabeth I it is in a way rather insulting to the Scots. Thus my point earlier the ‘coincidence’ is handy as the present Queen is Queen of both and arguably more Scots than English genetically even if its both massively less than her German DNA.


HMS Queen Elizabeth is a traditional RN name every bit as much as HMS Glasgow, HMS Cardiff and HMS Belfast are. Not a problem.

Alan Reid

Hi Gordon, I think Scotland did have at least one Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mum), a great wartime queen-consort, with very strong Scottish connections.
And to be fair – they did build the carriers in Scotland, and create all those highly skilled jobs, and launch a new generation of apprentices into the ship-building industry.
Maybe the union has got a wee bit of life left in it yet, eh?

David Cuthill

I quite agree with you. The Admiralty pulled a fast one there with the naming of the class Queen Elizabeth (For the English Queen).
I can just picture the admirals tittering into their pink gins when they came up with the idea.
It’s always really been the English Navy.
Even in King James VI/I the English Navy blockaded the Scottish Navy.
Should have called the class HMS Great Michael after the greatest ship in Europe when it was built in Newhaven on the Forth for the Scottish Navy.


Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast Queen Elizabeth all good traditional RN names. Not an issue.

Ian Skinner

Personally, I hope they name one of the Dreadnaught class HMS Hood.


I seriously hope not. The name should be for the Royal Navy’s future biggest ship made entirely out of British plate and section! Otherwise, let the great name rest in peace for now and the future until that day comes. I’m sure it will, but not now or for a Trident Sub.


RMS Queen Elizabeth (80 years this year this the greatest ship ever built was launched) was named after the Queen Mother, and QE2 was named after RMS Queen Elizabeth, but her majesty named her Queen Elizabeth the second (Naughty Queenie). But her Majesty was crowned Queen Elizabeth, not Queen Elizabeth the second, as United Britain has only had one Queen Elizabeth, or rather her majesty is the first Queen Elizabeth of a United Britain. We know she is named after the Battleship, but it is unfair to other parts of the Country that built her.


Confused. I was.


Well, UK’s monarchs have been using regnal names in continuation of england’s..edward VII n VIII, william IV for example… So if taking current queen as the second of her name is considered insulting, then it has been so for two centuries…

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