The launch of the Mary Rose Museum took place in and around Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the south coast of England in the UK, and at Southsea Castle just a mile or two away, from which King Henry VIII originally watched the ship go down with the loss of nearly all hands: out of 400 only 37 survived.
A symbolic wreath laying ceremony at the wreck site in the Solent began just before 8 am. The ceremony was directed from a WW2 boat surrounded by a number of smaller boats which had come along to witness the ceremony. After this came the symbolic return of the ship's bell to Portsmouth Naval Base and the Museum led by water cannon tugs, the Royal Navy, the Sea Cadets and the band of the Royal Marines to the accompaniment of an 11-gun salute.
Despite the rain and the lowering grey skies, by 10.30 we were in place on the ramparts of Southsea Castle for the flaming arrow volley conducted by the Purbrook Archers in authentic Tudor Dress who were on hand to demonstrate longbow weaponry. The largest collection of longbows anywhere in the world was found on board the ship, Attending also was British actor Robert Hardy who is a known expert on the longbow and was responsible for restoring many of those recovered from the sea and TV presenter Sandi Toksvig who is also Chancellor of Portsmouth University.
Evening ushered in a grand finale to mark the return of the ship's bell to the museum with a procession from the Victory Gate to the big anchor. A Tudor festival had been taking place all afternoon in the Port Arena of HMS Victory (Nelson's ship which is moored there) with 16th century music and songs from strolling players and experts on hand to explain how materials were dyed, how carpenters worked, what foods were available etc.
A fanfare from the rooftop of the Museum by the Royal Marines Band heralded the entry of the ship's bell into the arena with a Naval escort, the giant Tudor flag that had been covering the entire Museum was lowered, and then the full Royal Marines Band performed a concert to an appreciative audience.
And now one of the world's greatest museums is open to the public.