HRH The Princess Royal has attended a service of thanksgiving at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral to mark the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) 100 years ago.
Princess Anne is also the Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy and will be unveiling a commemorative stone after the service in the Cathedral grounds.
The commemorative stone depicts the unique shapes of four female naval uniform hats from the past 100 years.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said:
“I am pleased that we are able to commemorate the contribution of women in the Royal Navy over the past century, through this Service of Thanksgiving and with the unveiling of a new memorial stone in Portsmouth Cathedral.
“I’m proud to lead a Royal Navy where women serve as engineers and pilots, divers and submariners; where they have been recognised for their courage under fire and have risen to command fighting ships and major shore establishments. We now look forward to welcoming the first women into the general duties branch of the Royal Marines in the near future.
“However, we must never forget the pioneering women whose dedication, courage and skill made all this possible, and whose example remains a source of inspiration and pride within the Naval Service today.”
The Women’s Royal Naval Service was initially commissioned on 29 November 1917 towards the end of the First World War under the leadership of Dame Katherine Furse.
Yesterday’s inspirational ‘Wrens’ led the way, forging a challenging path and breaking through gender barriers for the generations that followed.
No longer in a supporting role, women today are employed across the entire breadth of the Naval Service, making up 10% of all serving personnel.
2017 also marks the 25th Anniversary since women musicians were permitted to serve alongside their male counterparts in HM Royal Marines Band Service.
Royal Navy Communications Officer Peter Wooldridge on 02392 720563 or NAVYMEDIACOMMS-NBCPPROREGIONS@mod.uk
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
- At its height, towards the end of the Second World War the number of women in the WRNS was 75,000.
- Before the WRNS was disbanded approximately 300 Wrens died in Service.
- The WRNS disbanded on 1 Nov 1993, after which 4,535 women transferred into the Royal Navy.
- Currently the most senior serving female officer is the Commodore Inga Kennedy CBE QHNS QARNNS (Queen’s Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service) who in April 2017 was appointed Assistant Chief of Naval Staff and Head of the Royal Naval Medical Service; she is the first non-Medical Officer and first woman to be assigned this appointment. Note: Until April 2017 Cdre Kennedy held the post of Inspector General on the staff of the Surgeon General of Defence Medical Services.