THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT IS ISSUED BY THE PRESS SECRETARY TO THE QUEEN
The Queen has conferred the title and office of Lord High Admiral to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
The Queen has held the office of titular head of the Navy – Lord High Admiral – since the Navy’s organisational structure was reviewed in 1964 and the title was re-vested in the Sovereign. Neither the Army nor the Air Force have similar offices at their head and the Navy is the only Service in which Her Majesty holds the official headship in addition to being ‘Head of the Armed Forces’.
The office of the Lord High Admiral dates from the 14th century, when the English Navy consolidated into one force. Originally responsible for aspects of Navy policy, the position of Lord High Admiral was held on commission by various peers of the realm. By 1628, following the death of the Duke of Buckingham, the position became entirely honorary with the duties of running the Navy delegated to a Board of Commissioners. Control of the Navy was passed to and from the Board and the Lord High Admiral until 1709 when the powers of the Lord High Admiral were finally vested in the Board. For a short time, in the 17th century, the office of Lord High Admiral was held by reigning Monarchs King Charles II, King James II and at the beginning of the 18th century by Queen Anne (although on this occasion only for a month).
The Duke of Edinburgh has a strong involvement with the Navy, having enrolled at Dartmouth Naval College at the age of 18. During World War II His Royal Highness served with the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets, and reached the rank of Commander, before retiring from active service. Although His Royal Highness gave up his active naval career some time ago, he has remained closely connected to, and actively interested in, every branch of Service life. In 1952, he was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps. The following year he was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet and appointed Captain General in the Royal Marines.
This gift to The Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of His 90th Birthday keeps alive the tradition of the Monarch investing the office as an honour. The official ceremony will take place at a later date.