The Naval Defence Act of 1889 introduced the ‘two power-standard’ whereby Britain was to maintain several battleships at least equal to the combined strength of the next two largest navies in the world. This precipitated the construction of the Royal Sovereign Class of battleships of which she was the first of seven of the class – later known as the ‘pre-Dreadnoughts’. At 14,150 LT she was built in dry-dock at Portsmouth Royal Navy Dockyard (there was no slipway long enough). Her keel was laid in September 1889 and she was launched in February 1891 and commissioned in 1892, relieving HMS Camperdown to serve as flagship of the Channel Fleet a role which she performed for the next five years. After taking part in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Spithead Review on 26th June 1897, she left for the Mediterranean, returning to Portsmouth in 1902. After a major refit the remainder of her career was mainly as a reserve vessel until she was sold in 1913 to be broken up, eventually in Genoa.