Nuclear sub service at Westminster Abbey draws peace protest

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, left, leaves after attending a service to recognise fifty years of continuous deterrent at sea, at Westminster Abbey in London, Friday, May 3, 2019. Royalty, politicians and military chiefs are gathering at Westminster Abbey to mark half a century of Britain's sea-borne nuclear arms program _ though organizers insist they are not thanking God for atomic weapons. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, Pool)

British royalty, politicians and military chiefs are gathering to mark half a century of a nuclear-armed Britain _ though organizers insist they are not thanking God for atomic weapons

LONDON — 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."

Prince William, who is commodore-in-chief of the submarine service, gave a reading from the Bible.

Successive British governments have backed the nuclear deterrent as helping to keep Britain safe and of maintaining the balance of power.

But peace activists condemned the service, and almost 200 Anglican clergy signed a letter calling for it to be canceled.

Anglican priests were among several dozen demonstrators who held a protest and "die in" across the street from the abbey.

Kate Hudson, secretary-general of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said the event was "morally repugnant."

"This sends out a terrible message to the world about our country. It says that here in Britain we celebrate weapons — in a place of worship — that can kill millions of people," she said.

Related News

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah each land a Showtime series

Aug 11, 2016

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah will each star in their own half-hour comedy series for Showtime

Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan gets US apology for airport stop

Aug 12, 2016

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan tweeted that he gets detained at U.S. airports "every damn time" after he was stopped at the Los Angeles International Airport

Nate Parker accepts Sundance award, creates youth fellowship

Aug 12, 2016

The writer, director, producer and star of "The Birth of a Nation" says the Sundance Institute offered him encouragement and support when he needed it most, and now he hopes to pass that opportunity onto the next generation of filmmakers

Broaden News

Reporter Pass is the only access you need to get into Hollywood. No matter it’s the red carpet event or backstage access, we’ve got you covered.

Award ShowsCelebrityPaparazziRoyaltyMoviesMusicTelevision Programs Press Releases