Royal visit to carrier cancelled as hunt continues for lost Marham jet

The Prince of Wales attends a Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) event at GrEEK Campus in Cairo, E

The Prince of Wales cancelled a planned visit to the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on his tour of Egypt today Wire - Credit: Peter Nicholls/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales' visit to a UK aircraft carrier has been cancelled two days after an RAF Marham-based stealth fighter crashed in the Mediterranean after taking off from the warship.

Charles was due to tour HMS Queen Elizabeth during the final day of his tour of Egypt, but a few hours before the event his office Clarence House announced the visit would not take place.

It came amid an international operation to recover the £100m F35 Lightning jet to prevent its top-secret cloaking technology from falling into foreign hands.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "For operational reasons, the visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth has been cancelled."

The first F-35 B Lightning stealth aircraft piloted by Wing Commnder John Butcher touches down at RA

F35 Lightning jets at RAF Marham will be equipped with a new missile which can hit its target from 85 miles away - Credit: Ian Burt

The rest of Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall's programme continued as scheduled, with Camilla touring the Brooke Veterinary Hospital in Cairo while the prince met with Egypt's environment minister Dr Yasmine Fouad during an event highlighting sustainability in business.

During the visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth, Charles was due to meet Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the carrier strike group, and Capt Ian Feasey, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier.

He was also scheduled to watch the launch of a F35 jet from the flight deck before meeting some of the ship's company including US Navy and Marines.

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The 65,000-tonne Royal Navy flagship is returning to the UK from its maiden mission, which included exercises with the Indian military.

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth harbour after being delayed du

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth harbour after being delayed due to the crew being tested for coronavirus. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire - Credit: PA

It was part of the carrier strike group's deployment to the Indo-Pacific amid heightened tensions with China in the region.

The pilot ejected safely from the 617 Dambusters Squadron aircraft before it crashed close to the ship, shortly after taking off on a  routine flight on Wednesday.

American search and recovery experts are working alongside the Royal Navy to retrieve the warplane from the sea bed.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the Russian military has been tracking the Queen Elizabeth and its strike group as it returns from its deployment, but he would not be drawn on reports Russian submarines may try to seize the aircraft, which came down in international waters.