Royal Reviews at Spithead
Geoffrey Bennett takes the reader on a visit to Spithead - the deep water channel that leads into Portsmouth Dockyard - which has been the scene of naval reviews by British monarchs since Henry VIII.
To the royal navy Spithead is best known for its deep water channel which leads into Portsmouth Dockyard, where King Henry VIII provided his fighting ships with their first dry dock. To Britain’s Merchant Navy Spithead is as well known as the way into the great port of Southampton, whence until recently such liners as the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth II sailed regularly across the Atlantic to and from New York.
History remembers Spithead for the mutiny of 1797, by which the men of the Channel fleet persuaded a parsimonious Government to remedy the worst of the appalling conditions under which they were then required to serve. And to many thousands of former members of Britain’s Armed Forces who are alive today, Spithead is well remembered as the anchorage from which a whole armada of ships and craft carried the greater part of the Allied armies across the English Channel to the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.