The Queen officially welcomed the new £3bn aircraft carrier during a ceremony commissioning it to the Royal Navy fleet

Accompanied by the Princess Royal, the Queen arrived on board HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth Naval Base.

A specially installed lift was used to bring her up to the hangar for the occasion.

Dressed in a purple outfit, Her Majesty was led on board by the ship’s commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd.

The Queen at the ceremony for HMS Queen Elizabeth
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The Queen at the ceremony for HMS Queen Elizabeth

The ceremony was also attended by the new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who witnessed the 65,000 tonne vessel being introduced to the fleet.

Families and VIPs totalling 3,700 gathered in the ship’s giant hall for the ceremony.

The largest carrier ever to be built in Britain is expected to be the Navy’s flagship craft for at least five decades.

Since setting sail from Rosyth dockyard in Fife in June, the warship has taken part in exercises with US Navy ships in the Atlantic Ocean.

She will remain without aircraft until flying trials are conducted in the US next year, with 10 F-35 Lightning II jets and 120 aircrew expected to take part.

Last month, the then defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the carrier would be deployed “across the seven seas, using her strike power to deter our enemies”.

In numbers: Navy’s new colossal flagship

HMS Elizabeth (second from right) sails with the USS George HW Bush and her carrier strike group
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HMS Elizabeth (second from right) sails with the USS George HW Bush and her carrier strike group

:: HMS Queen Elizabeth is 280 metres long – equivalent to the length of more than three football pitches – and 70 metres wide by 56 metres high

:: At 70,600 tonnes, she’s three times heavier than the UK’s last carrier, HMS Illustrious

:: The bunkbeds are 3ft wide compared to the usual 2ft 3in found in other Royal Navy ships

:: 11 tugs were used to help her leave Scotland’s Rosyth dockyard

The Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Red Arrows mark the naming of the carrier in 2014

:: More than 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment were removed from Portsmouth harbour to enable her to dock

:: The oldest member of crew is 58; the youngest 17

:: Manufacturing on the warship started in 2008

:: Enough water to fill 6,920 baths can be made fresh each day

Two US Navy jets fly in formation above HMS Queen Elizabeth during an exercise
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Two US Navy jets fly in formation above HMS Queen Elizabeth during an exercise

:: Around 1.5 million square metres of paintwork covers the ship

:: About 470 London buses can park on the flight deck

:: She has a range of 10,000 nautical miles

:: Her radar can track up to 1,000 aircraft within a 250-mile radius

The Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Fighter jets can get from the hangar to the deck in one minute

:: Two huge lifts can move two fighter jets at a time from the hangar to the deck in 60 seconds

:: Jets can land every 45 seconds and take off every 90 seconds

More from HMS Queen Elizabeth

:: Up to 110 sorties can be launched each day

The HMS Queen Elizabeth under construction in 2014
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Construction started in 2008

:: It features medical facilities including a dental surgery, 12-bed ward and an operating theatre

:: Forty chefs will cook food for the four large dining rooms; 960 crew can be served in one hour in a single dining room