The ship, named the RRS Sir David Attenborough on Thursday, was voted by the public to be called Boaty McBoatface in 2016.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in high spirits as they joined Sir David Attenborough for the naming ceremony of a ship the public voted to call Boaty McBoatface.
William made reference to the vetoed name in his speech after the polar research ship was officially named the RRS Sir David Attenborough in an official ceremony in Merseyside on Thursday.
The royal couple were given a tour of the ship and met with a team of engineers, including young apprentices, who have been involved in the build.
The ship, owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), has taken two years to build and will transform how scientists can work in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The poll to name the vessel was opened to the public in 2016 and the name Boaty McBoatface quickly emerged as the most popular choice – but the suggestion was not taken up.
The royals were pictured laughing and chatting with Sir David throughout the ceremony, with Kate wearing a belted blue coat by Alexander McQueen and Prince William in a suit and tie.
Joined by the 93-year-old veteran broadcaster, William and Kate also met with scientists who demonstrated the state-of-the-art equipment used to carry out research, and they spoke with children involved in the BAS Polar Explorer programme.
The royal couple, who are parents to Prince George, six, Princess Charlotte, four, and 17-month-old Prince Louis, also heard from the ship’s captains and crew members about its ice-breaking capabilities and navigation systems before attending the official ceremony.
William said a few words before Kate, as sponsor, formally named the ship when a bottle of champagne was smashed against the hull.
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In his speech, William acknowledged the RRS Sir David Attenborough as a “testament to the cutting-edge science and engineering expertise right here on Merseyside” before referring to the vessel’s publicly voted name.
He said the ship will help expand global knowledge of polar oceans and the impact of climate change in the region.
The Duke of Cambridge added: “As last week’s climate protests the world over, and [Wednesday’s] report on our oceans and frozen regions demonstrated, there has never been a more important moment for this ship to get to work.
“And there is no person more fitting for this beacon of scientific research to be named after than you, David.
“You have shown us how awe-inspiring the natural world is, and also how fragile and endangered it is. And you have inspired us all to do as much as we possibly can to protect it.
“It is my immense privilege and relief to welcome Sir David Attenborough, rather than Boaty McBoatface, to speak.”
Speaking to Sky News following the ceremony, Sir David Attenborough said 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg has “crystallised or made vocal or dramatic and vivid the concern that young people will have about their future.
He added: “I’m now in my 90s and I won’t see what happens, but they will.
“And unless we get it right very quickly, a huge price will be imposed on them that they will have to pay.
More than 124,000 people voted to name the vessel Boaty McBoatface in the public poll, and the name will live on via a miniature, unmanned, yellow submarine which will be on board the vessel.