The research ship is being named after Sir David Attenborough, who Prince William recently interviewed about his work highlighting the importance of the natural world

By Stephanie Petit /
September 26, 2019
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Kate Middleton and Prince William are teaming up for a special occasion — with champagne!

While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle continue their royal tour of Africa, Kate and William stepped out together on Thursday to visit attending the naming ceremony of the U.K.’s new polar research ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, in Birkenhead.

Both Prince William and Sir David Attenborough gave remarks before Kate had the honor of formally naming the ship and smashing a bottle of champagne (from a safe distance away via a button!) against hull.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the naming ceremony for The RSS Sir David Attenborough on September 26, 2019 in Birkenhead, England.
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For the occasion, Kate recycled her light blue coat dress by Alexander McQueen (her wedding dress designer!), which she’s worn on several occasions dating back to 2014. She kept the rest of her look simple, wearing black heels and carrying a black clutch by Asprey, with her hair in her signature bouncy blowout.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at a commemoration of the Normandy Landings at Gold Beach, during the D Day 70 commemorations, on June 6, 2014 in Arromanches, France.
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Before the ceremony, the royal couple toured the ship, which will enable world-leading research to be carried out in Antarctica and the Arctic over the next 25 to 30 years. On board, Kate and William met a team of engineers from Cammell Laird who have been involved in the ship’s build, including young apprentices.

Accompanied by Attenborough on the flight deck, Kate and William also met scientists who demonstrated state of the art equipment and schoolchildren involved in the “Polar Explorer’ program. They then visited the bridge where they will meet the ship’s captains and crew members and hear about the ice-breaking capabilities and navigation systems.

Even before its official naming ceremony, the ship was already famous. It made headlines when the Natural Environment Research Council let the internet suggest a name — and the overwhelming winner was “Boaty McBoatface.” (Also in the running were “It’s bloody cold here,” “Usain Bolt,” “Ice Ice Baby” and “Notthetitanic.”)

Boaty McBoatface was suggested by communications manager James Hand, who later tweeted an apology.

Though the NERC opted instead to name the $287 million vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough, it did bestow the silly moniker upon a yellow submarine operating from the ship.

At the end of his speech to introduce Attenborough, Prince William poked fun at the rejected name. “It is my immense privilege and relief to welcome Sir David Attenborough, rather than Boaty McBoatface, to speak,” he said.

Prince William interviewed Attenborough about his work highlighting the importance of the natural world and the urgent challenges that will face the next generation of environmental leaders at the World Economic Forum earlier this year.

William was reunited with the 93-year-old English broadcaster and natural historian in April, when he stepped out alongside Prince Harry and their father, Prince Charles, for the global premiere of Netflix’s Our Planet at the Natural History Museum in London.