Freedom of city parade celebrates Royal Navy's historic ties with Portsmouth

  • ITV News Meridian reporter Chlöe Oliver was in Portsmouth to see the Freedom of the City ceremony

Royal Navy personnel have marched through the streets of Portsmouth to commemorate being given the Freedom of the City.

The honour, the highest that can be bestowed by the city, was originally awarded to the Portsmouth Command of the Royal Navy on 10 November 1964.

Over the last few decades the Royal Naval structure has changed so the council agreed to transfer the honorary grant to Portsmouth Naval Base and Portsmouth Ships. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth in March 2021 Credit: PA
The Royal Navy has been inextricably linked to the city since the 15th century Credit: PA

The Freedom of the City was originally granted to 'pay tribute to the glorious traditions of the Royal Navy over many centuries of gallant and distinguished service to our Sovereign and country'

It also acknowledges 'the great part which the Royal Navy plays and has for so long played in the life and the development of the city and further wishing to strengthen and foster the close bonds which exist between the city and the Royal Navy'.

The decision to transfer the honorary grant was taken in February.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: "We are a proud and historic maritime city, and the Royal Navy is at our heart.

"The naval base, where the first dry dock in the world was built in 1495, generates thousands of jobs and gives a significant economic boost to the region. 

"I am very grateful that we had the support from all the parties across the council to transfer the grant of the Freedom of the City and look forward to the march where Portsmouth's close bond with the Royal Navy will be officially marked."

  • 13,000 people are currently employed at Portsmouth Naval Base

  • £450 million is contributed to the Portsmouth economy

  • 1200 companies supply the base, many of them local businesses.  

The parade culminated in a service at Guildhall Square

Naval Base Commander Commodore, JJ Bailey, said: "It is a huge and significant honour for the Royal Navy to be able to march through Portsmouth 'with fixed bayonets and colours flying'.

"A long and rich tradition exists of cooperation and symbiosis between the Royal Navy and the people of Portsmouth; indeed many of the sailors based in HM Naval Base Portsmouth call the city and surrounding area home.

"At the start of 2022, now we have completed the first operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth, and as we approach the anniversary of the Falklands Campaign, there is no better time to celebrate this rich and meaningful relationship.