Review of the Fleet 

A Review of the Fleet has been held many times over the centuries for various reasons.

Originally a review took place when a fleet was mobilised for war e.g. 1415 and was carried out by the reigning monarch, 'Royal Review'.

Additional later reasons included:
- Demonstrations of the strength of the fleet to potential enemies e.g. 1889,
- Celebration of victories e.g. 1693,
- Mark the Coronation of a Monarch e.g. 1820,
- Commemorate a Royal Jubilee of the reigning monarch e.g. 1887,
Note: A Golden Jubilee Review for Queen Elizabeth II was not held for cost reasons.
- Presentation of Colours to the Navy e.g. 1924,
- Other reasons considered significant e.g. 1969 NATO 20th Anniversary Review.

Reviews have mostly, but not exclusively been held at Spithead, the anchorage outside Portsmouth Harbour in the channel known as the Solent. An example of a review away from Spithead was in 1919 at Southend to celebrate WW1 victory.

Normally the occasion would be marked with celebration and ceremony and often showcased milestones in naval ship development or weapons.  However the largest review ever held, was held in secret in May 1944. The review of the D-Day invasion fleet which included over 800 vessels, ranging from capital ships to landing craft.

The largest number of Royal Reviews carried out in any one monarch's reign was 17, held during Queen Victoria's reign. 


Monarch Year Place Reason Comment
Edward III 1346: June Spithead Before sailing for war with France.  
Henry V 1415: August Spithead Before sailing for war with France.  
Elizabeth I 1582: Spithead   First time yards were manned and salutes fired.
Charles II 1662: May Spithead Arrival of wife of Charles II in Portsmouth.  
William III & Mary II 1693: February Spithead Celebrate the battles at 'La Hogue' and 'Barfleur'.  
William III 1700: March Spithead Visit of Czar Peter the Great of Muscovy.  
George III 1773: 22/25-June Spithead 20 Ships which had fought in the Seven Years War First formal Royal Review.
  1778: May Spithead    
1781: Spithead    
  1794: 26-June Spithead Celebrate the battle 'First of June'.  
  1814: 25-June Spithead Celebrate Treaty of Paris. Presided over by Prince Regent.
George IV 1820: September Spithead Coronation Review. First Coronation Review.
Victoria 1842: March Spithead Grand Naval Review.  
1844: May Spithead Visit of Tsar of Prussia.  
1844: October Spithead Visit of King of France.  
1845: 23-June Spithead Experimental Squadron.  
1853: 11-August Spithead Before Crimea War. 1st Review of a fleet of steam warships.
1854: March Spithead Baltic Fleet before war.  
1856: 23-April Spithead Baltic Fleet after Crimean war. Included first Ironclad Ships.
1865: August Spithead Visit of French Fleet.  
1867: 17-July Spithead Visit of Sultan of Turkey and Viceroy of Egypt. First time all ships flew the White Ensign, and not Red, White or Blue Squadron Ensigns.
1873: June Spithead Visit of Shah of Persia.  
1878: August Spithead Review of Reserve Squadron.  
1887: 23-July Spithead Golden Jubilee Review.  
1889: August Spithead Visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  
1891: August Spithead Visit of French Fleet.  
1896: August Spithead Visit of M.P.'s and Lee Hung Chang.  
1897: 26-June Spithead Diamond Jubilee Review. Presided over by Prince of Wales.
1899: August Spithead Visit by German Squadron. Presided over by Prince of Wales.
Edward VII 1902: 16-August Spithead Coronation Review.  
1905: August Spithead Visit of the French Fleet.  
1907: August Spithead Review of Home Fleet.  
1909: 31-July Spithead Review of Home and Atlantic Fleets.  
George V 1911: 24-June Spithead Coronation Review.  
1912: 09-July Weymouth Review for Houses of Parliament.  
1914: 16-July Spithead Reserve Fleet Mobilisation Review. Included 59 Battleships.
1919: July Southend WW1 Victory Review.  
1924: 26-July Spithead Colour Presentation.  
1935: 16-July Spithead Silver Jubilee Review.  
George VI 1937: 20-May Spithead Coronation Review.  
1944: May Spithead D-Day Invasion Fleet at the Solent.  
Elizabeth II 1953: 15-June Spithead Coronation Review.  
1957: May Invergordon    
1965: Clyde Partial Review.  
1969: May Spithead NATO 20th Anniversary Review.  
1969: Torbay Colour Presentation.  
1977: 28-June Spithead Silver Jubilee Review.  
1993: North Wales Commemoration of Battle of the Atlantic  
2003: Plymouth Colour Presentation.  
2005: 28-June Spithead Bi-centenary of Battle of Trafalgar. International Fleet Review
This page last edited - 05 March, 2013.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.