LONDON (AP) — Royalty, politicians and military chiefs gathered at London’s Westminster Abbey on Friday to mark half a century of Britain’s seaborne nuclear arms program — though organizers insisted they were not thanking God for atomic weapons.
Prince William, Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt and naval officers and sailors attended the service in honor of Britain’s nuclear-armed submarines and their crews. At least one U.K. sub carrying nuclear missiles has been on undersea patrol at all times since April 1969, a 50-year mission titled Operation Relentless.
The abbey said the service was not a celebration, but a recognition of the Royal Navy’s commitment to “effective peacekeeping.”
“We can’t celebrate weapons of mass destruction, but we do owe a debt of gratitude and sincere thanks to all those countless men and women, some represented here today, who in the past 50 years have maintained a deterrent, and indeed to their families, who have stood by them,” Dean of Westminster John Hall told the 2,000-strong congregation.
“Those countless men and women played their part, a vital part, in maintaining peace.”