Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: UK not donating HMS Prince of Wales to PH


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FACT CHECK: UK not donating HMS Prince of Wales to PH
Fact-checking bodies have already disputed several claims of the British Royal Navy donating its warships to the Philippines

Claim: The United Kingdom’s Royal Navy is donating its aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, to the Philippines amid ongoing tensions in the South China Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video was posted on April 23 by a channel with 4,720 subscribers. As of writing, it has 40,166 views, 242 comments, and 1,100 likes. 

The video’s narrator cited supposed reports of the UK intending to “permanently donate” the aircraft carrier, as well as alleged statements from the Philippines’ defense department.

The bottom line: The HMS Prince of Wales (R09) remains on duty under the British Royal Navy. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier returned to Portsmouth Harbor in March 2024 after leading a UK Carrier Strike Group in Exercise Steadfast Defender, the largest military exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 40 years. The HMS Prince of Wales replaced its sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth for the exercise.

There are no statements from the British Royal Navy, the Philippine Navy, nor the defense departments of the UK and the Philippines regarding the supposed donation of the aircraft carrier to the Philippines.

PH-UK military relations: The Philippines and the UK continue to strengthen their defense partnership. In January, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding outlining their defense engagements in the next five years across areas such as military exercises, training, and modernization efforts.

According to the UK embassy in Manila, “We can expect this engagement to focus on the maritime domain, Exclusive Economic Zone, hydrography and UK participation in future military exercises.”

In February, the HMS Spey made a port call to the Philippines in a “clear demonstration” of the two countries’ “strengthening defense relationship.”

No mention of a donation of ships, much less a Queen-Elizabeth aircraft carrier, was made.


UK support: The UK had condemned China’s “unsafe and escalatory tactics” against the Philippines in the South China Sea, and called on both countries to “adhere to the findings of the 2016 Arbitral Award proceedings, which are legally binding on both parties.”

Tensions between Manila and Beijing have risen in recent months, as China continues to ignore the arbitral ruling and asserts its claim on almost the entire disputed waterway.

Debunked: VERA Files and other fact-checking bodies have already disputed claims regarding the UK’s supposed donation of its ships to the Philippines.

Rappler has also published several fact-checks on supposed UK military actions related to the Philippines and the South China Sea issue:

– Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com

Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to the #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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