By Willem van de Velde the younger

Rijksmuesum Amsterdam

On the third day of the Four Days Battle, 3 (13) June 1666, the flagship of Vice-Admiral  George Ayscue ran aground on the Galloper Sand. Terrified by the approaching Dutch fireships the crew of the “Prince Royal” was forced to surrender. The flood tide subsequently floated the ship, but her rudder was disabled and de Ruyter ordered her burned – to the fury of Cornelis Tromp, to whose squadron she had struck.

‘And so we lost the second best ship in England, having ninety brass pieces of ordnance and eight hundred men, which was a great grief to all the rest of the fleet,’ noted the sailor Edward Barlow.

Even after fifty-six years of service, ‘she was like a castle in the sea, and I believe the best ship that ever was built in the world to endure battering,’ wrote the minister of king Charles, Sir Thomas Clifford, ‘but she is gone and this is an ill subject to be longer upon’.