Dinner in HMS Victory, 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, 21 October 2005
Published 21 October 2005
Success at Trafalgar was by no means a foregone conclusion.
First Sea Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Both Prince Philip and I are delighted to be able to join you for this very special celebration here in the Great Cabin of Lord Nelson's Flagship to mark his famous victory at Trafalgar exactly two hundred years ago.
The defeat of the combined French and Spanish fleets lifted the very real threat of an invasion of Britain. It was greeted by the nation with huge relief, and it was the first step in the process of defeating Napoleon's ambitious plans for the domination of Europe.
Success at Trafalgar was by no means a foregone conclusion. The British Fleet, under the command of Lord Nelson, faced a formidable enemy, but battles are seldom decided by statistics.
It was the qualities of the leadership and comradeship which he gave to the Royal Navy in the years leading up to his final battle that made all the difference.
He was without doubt a superb tactician and a fearless and determined commander, but he was above all a man of faith, duty and deep concern for the welfare of everyone in his fleet.
Tonight we recall his greatest battle and his death at the moment of victory, but we also remember his example of service and his humanity.
Just before the battle, Nelson sat down at the desk behind me, to compose his famous prayer in terms so typical of his character:-
"May the Great God, whom I worship, grant to my Country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory; and may no misconduct, in anyone, tarnish it, and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet."
I now invite you to join me in the traditional toast:
"To the immortal memory of Horatio, Lord Nelson, and to all those who fell with him."
The Queen's Jubilees and other milestones
A history of Jubilees
A message from Her Majesty The Queen on the 75th anniversary of VJ day
May the memory of their sacrifice and bravery remain with us always.
The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings
The Queen's speech at the commissioning ceremony of HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth embodies the best of British technology and innovation – a true flagship for the 21st century
Prince Harry delivers a message from The Queen at RAF Honnington
The presentation of Colours is an opportunity to recognise historic achievements and to look forward to the future with confidence; a confidence built upon the dedication of...
The Queen addresses The Royal Lancers at Windsor Castle
You have established yourselves as a unified Regiment and a force without match
The Queen's Response to the Chief Engineer, on the Corps of Royal Engineers 300th anniversary
I would wish all Sappers, wherever they may be, every success and good fortune in the future
A speech by The Queen at the Royal Artillery Tercentenary Parade on 26th May, 2016
The Royal Regiment of Artillery has since 1716 proudly served the Nation all over the World and I wish all Gunners every success and good fortune in the future
A speech by The Queen at the Borders Railway, Scotland
Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones; my own is no exception. But I thank you all, and the many others at home and overseas, for your touching messages of great...