British Royal Navy Claps Back At Claims Branch Will Have to Sell Off HMS Prince of Wales (R09)

Photo Credit: Gareth Fuller / PA Images / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gareth Fuller / PA Images / Getty Images

The British Royal Navy is clapping back at media reports that the cash-strapped military branch might sell the HMS Prince of Wales (R09). The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is reportedly at risk of being sold after it was revealed the upcoming government Budget won’t see an increase in defense spending, despite repeated warnings from military officials regarding the state of Britain’s Armed Forces.

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) arriving at port
HMS Prince of Wales (R09) arriving back at HMNB Portsmouth in Hampshire, 2022. (Photo Credit: Andrew Matthews / PA Images / Getty Images)

Word of the potential mothballing or sale of the HMS Prince of Wales was first reported by The Daily Mail, which claimed senior officials within the Royal Navy were worried over the UK government’s latest Budget. The move is allegedly being considered to ensure the branch can keep the aircraft carrier’s sister ship and the fleet’s flagship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), in service.

According to an unnamed source who spoke to the publication, members of the Maritime Enterprise Planning Group have begun discussions regarding the vessel’s future, with it likely a potential sale could happen as soon as 2028.

“There’s an awareness in the group that the Navy is struggling to maintain operational commitments and has to expand the fleet,” they said. “The second carrier is an asset that is held in reserve and is a very expensive piece of rarely-used equipment. So if we want to address the balance sheet issues, disposing of her or sharing her with say an AUKUS [Australia, UK and US] ally, is an option.”

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) and Queen Elizabeth (R08) at sea
HMS Prince of Wales (R09) and Queen Elizabeth (R08), 2021. (Photo Credit: Petty Officer Photographer Jay Allen / Wikimedia Commons / Open Government License 3)

The HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales were approved by then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007. They each cost around £3.5 billion to build, with Queen Elizabeth commissioned in 2014 and Prince of Wales entering service five years later. They’ve since become the core components of the UK Carrier Strike Group.

In recent years, there have been concerns over the UK’s capacity to operate the aircraft carriers, which each require a crew of 700 and a support ship. The Royal Navy currently only has one such vessel in its fleet, the RFA Fort Victoria, which will be retired in 2028. As for crewmen, the British military as a whole is currently suffering recruitment issues.

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) docked
HMS Prince of Wales (R09) preparing to depart from Portsmouth Naval Base, 2022. (Photo Credit: Finnbarr Webster / Getty Images)

Responding to the allegations regarding the potential sale of the HMS Prince of Wales, a Royal Navy spokesperson told The Daily Mail, “These claims are categorically incorrect, we are fully committed to operating both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.”

More from us: Apple TV+ Releasing ‘The Bloody Hundredth’ Documentary, Narrated By Tom Hanks

Recently, Prince of Wales stood in for her sister ship in what was described as the “largest NATO exercise since the Cold War,” after an issue was found with Queen Elizabeth‘s starboard propeller shaft. Known as Steadfast Defender 2024, it’s believed the extent of the exercise is to show Russia how strong the military might of the alliance is, in light of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

Writing Portfolio
Stories of the Unsolved