This year's celebrations in London have been postponed to 2021.
With a total coastline length of 6,435 km (3,999 miles), Chile has always been a seafaring nation and highly dependent on its maritime links and resources.
The Scots-born Lord Thomas Alexander Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775-1860), at the time a retired Royal Navy captain, was called upon in 1818 by the newly-independent Republic of Chile to oversee the creation of its maritime fighting force and was named as its first Admiral. Cochrane prepared the country's first warships, he recruited crews, appointed officers (most of whom were British in the early days) and built the fleet into a redoubtable navy. He died in London in 1860 and is interred in the nave of Westminster Abbey.
Throughout its history, the Armada de Chile has always risen to the challenge of protecting Chilean waters and maritime transportation, providing efficient communications and contributing to infrastructure development in the service of the Chilean nation. It has always retained close links with the Royal Navy and its traditions, organisation and prestige reflect these links to this day.
Traditional commemorative ceremonies and events are held in Chile throughout the month of May, culminating on the 21st of May with the nationwide 'Día de las Glorias Navales' in memory of the heroic acts of Arturo Prat and his comrades at the Battle of Iquique. This date is also celebrated in the United Kingdom, with a ceremony commemorating the life of Lord Cochrane and a celebration of the close and cordial relationship between our two countries' navies.
Prat and Cochrane would surely recognise the Chilean navy today; a force made up of nearly 26,000 men and women, loyal, honest, and professional, with the highest degree of commitment and dedication. They are the bedrock of our institution and just as courageous as our traditional heroes; when the recent State of Constitutional Exception was declared due to the coronavirus pandemic, the navy as a whole turned out to help safeguard the health of the population, to keep supply networks functioning and help to maintain law and order.
This year, 2020, sees nations around the world subjected to this severe pandemic and in keeping with the duty of care and the dedication of our resources to other more pressing priorities, almost all the events planned by the navy and civilian authorities in Chile to celebrate the Month of the Sea have been cancelled.
Likewise, in London the Chilean Embassy and Naval Mission has opted to suspend the planned event in Westminster Abbey on 21st May 2020. Although a disappointment to all concerned, we look forward to welcoming our distinguished guests to give thanks and celebrate the occasion at a ceremony now scheduled to be held on Friday 21st May 2021.