At 920 feet long and with an estimated half a century working life, the £3.1 billion behemoth aircraft carrier is the biggest and most powerful warship ever built by the UK.
The Queen, the Princess Royal and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson witnessed the 71,650-ton vessel being accepted into the Royal Navy.
The First Sea Lord has heralded the arrival of the “enormously flexible big grey ship” at the commissioning ceremony for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier.
Speaking aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, said: “We have been on a long complicated but committed journey to get to this point and commissioning the ship is a key milestone.”
He added: “The point of the big grey ship is it’s enormously big, flexible, capable and adaptable.
“I think the key thing about the Queen Elizabeth class is the range of aircraft it can carry, fixed and rotary wing and they can be configured for humanitarian disaster relief operations, non-combatant evacuations and if needs be to deploy sovereign air power at the Government’s choosing.”
Sir Philip added that although the navy had been without an aircraft carrier for several years, it had been preparing for the arrival of the next generation of carriers.
He said: “We have seen how useful aircraft carriers are around the world, most of our key partners have them and I am eternally grateful to the US and French navies who have embedded many of our sailors, airmen and marines.”
Speaking on the impact of Brexit, he added: “We have been spending quite a bit of time in defence working out what that means to us and of course immediately it hasn’t changed anything.
“The Royal Navy is still involved in EU maritime operations in both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
“What it has forced us to do is look at what are the key components of our defence and security relationships with our key European allies and I can say we can feel those bonds tightening, not loosening.”
Captain Jerry Kyd described the commissioning ceremony, being held at the ship’s home base Portsmouth on Thursday, as a “major milestone”.
“Building aircraft carriers is not for the fainthearted.
“There are very few countries who can do this around the world,” he said.
“So we should look at our British industry, our designers, all the skills, all the production companies around the country, the shipyards from Devon through to Fife, to the Royal Navy, who have come together to make this happen.
“We should be really…