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William pays tribute to ‘resilience’ of submariners as he unveils new memorial

The Duke of Cambridge speaks with 100-year-old Diana Mayes, who was widowed in 1943, during the unveiling of a submariners memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire (Anthony Devlin/PA)
The Duke of Cambridge speaks with 100-year-old Diana Mayes, who was widowed in 1943, during the unveiling of a submariners memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to the “continued resilience” of the Royal Navy’s submariners and their families as he unveiled a new memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.

William gave a short speech on the Submarine Service during the unveiling ceremony at the Staffordshire site on Wednesday, in which he said: “You would be hard-pressed to find a more challenging environment to serve in.”

The duke spoke of how the new monument “harnesses in physical form the struggles this life of service can lead to”, before cutting a ribbon to officially unveil it.

During his visit, William met with submariners, veterans, and some of their families, including that of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, who was murdered on HMS Astute after it docked in Southampton in April 2011.

Lieutenant Commander Molyneux’s widow, Gillian Molyneux, told the duke the unveiling of the new memorial had been “emotional”.

Submariners memorial
The Duke of Cambridge unveils a submariners memorial (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, William said: “The Submarine Service has, for over 120 years, been at the forefront of our nation’s defence.

“However, to many it is an invisible force which is so often out of sight and out of mind.

“The risks and the sacrifices associated with such service are clear, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more challenging environment to serve in.

Submariners memorial
The Duke of Cambridge speaks with 100-year-old Diana Mayes, who was widowed in 1943 (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“It is however within this environment that some of our best men and women work, and live.

“All of you will in some way be familiar with the long periods of separation, the lack of contact with loved ones, and the uncertainty of what the next day holds.

“It is because of the continued resilience in the face of such challenges that we are gathered here now.

“With this memorial, we are not only providing a focal point for today’s submarine community, but also a moving tribute to the memory of lost shipmates and loved ones, and a place for people to come and remember them.”

A competition was launched in 2020 to help design the new memorial and William cut the ribbon to unveil it with those responsible for the winning designs.

The duke continued: “Inspired by the competition winners and their ideas, Paul Day has created a truly fitting memorial to those lost, and sadly, to those who may give their lives in years to come.

“This memorial beautifully captures all elements of the world in which you live, whether in service or in support at home.

Submariners memorial
The Duke of Cambridge speaks with sea cadets (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“It harnesses in physical form the struggles this life of service can lead to, the loneliness of separation, the expectation of return, and the fortitude your way of life demands.”

He added: “It is a great testament to the spirit of this indomitable community that everyone came together to make the image of this memorial a reality.

“To those serving, our veterans, the families, and the submarine industries, you have my heartfelt thanks for donating, no matter the amount.”