In the face of nuclear protest by members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Prince William was booed as he attended a Westminster Abbey service marking 50 years of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent, per BBC. The Duke of Cambridge was greeted with chants “shame on you” as he arrived at the church with John Hall, Dean of Westminster.
Penny Mordaunt joined William in her first official engagement as defense secretary. She previously praised the “incredible crews” that guided the U.K.’s nuclear submarines over the years and announced the fourth member of the new Dreadnought class submarines, HMS King George VI.
Nine News reports that the CND protest group held banners and placards that read “Blessed be the bomb makers” and “Abolish war.” They also staged a “die-in,” which is a form of protest in which people lay on the ground and pretend to be dead to commemorate victims of a specific cause — in this case, nuclear war.
CND’s general secretary Kate Hudson, one of the members of the protest group, said that she believes “it’s absolutely inappropriate that thanks should be given for nuclear weapons and we’re not alone on this.”
“The die-in will be symbolic of those people who have been killed in nuclear war and a sign of what would happen in the event of nuclear war.”
Nuclear deterrent: Prince William heckled at service https://t.co/qodEBqyDxA— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) May 3, 2019
Reverend Matthew Harbage from St. Marks church in Regent’s Park in central London believes that the event “is wrong based on our theological principle.” He added that his reaction upon hearing of the service “was one of surprise and deep disappointment.”
Another notable protester was musician Brian Eno, a founding member of the glam rock band Roxy Music.
“Why are we wasting so much of our resources on weapons that we’re never likely to use?”
William and Mordaunt sat close to the High Altar as Hall delivered an address in which he acknowledged the personal correspondence and emails urging him to cancel the address. But regardless, he said that he was “proud” that the event was taking place in the abbey.
The Dean of Westminster added that the event was not a celebration of nuclear power. He said that nuclear weapons cannot be celebrated but added that humans “do owe a debt of gratitude to those responsible for maintaining the peace.”
The Chaplain of the Fleet, the Venerable Martin Gough, offered a Naval Prayer during the service and highlighted the event as an “opportunity to acknowledge the sheer sacrifice” the naval personnel and their families make.