It’s great news that this summer will see the launch of Britain’s biggest-ever warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, built on the Clyde and weighing 65,000 tons. This beast will be carrying Merlins, Chinooks, Apache and 250 troops, and also features a ‘Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System’, which I don’t quite understand the meaning of but definitely makes me aroused.
But couldn’t the Powers That Be have come up with a more original name? I love the royal family and everything, but how many things do we have to name after them? Most recently, a year or so ago it was announced that they’d come up with a name for our part of Antarctica – and they’d decided on ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’. And there are already a lot of things named after the Queen.
Aren’t there other people we can commemorate? For some reason the British have this boring obsession with naming everything after the royal family, while the French tend to honour great people instead; if you look at the 100 Greatest Britons list, and ignoring the living (few of whom will make the list in 50 years’ time), how many have had ships, streets or other such things named after them?
I imagine this is part of a British tendency to avoid controversy, as the obvious choice for this new ship would be the HMS Margaret Thatcher (which admittedly might not be hugely popular on Clydeside). I imagine the Americans will have named one of their ships after her before we have.
If it makes people happy we can name the sister ship the HMS Tony Benn, although I’m not sure he would have appreciated it.