Soleil Royal (Royal Sun) was a French 104-gun ship of the line, flagship of Admiral Tourville.
She was built in Brest between 1668 and 1670 by engineer Laurent Hubac, was launched in 1669, and stayed unused in Brest harbour for years. She was recommissioned with 112 guns and 1200 men when the Nine Years’ War broke out in 1688 as the flagship of the escadre du Ponant (squadron of the West).
She was said to be a good sailing ship and her decorations were amongst the most beautiful and elaborate of all baroque flagships. The emblem of the “sun” had been chosen by Louis XIV as his personal symbol.
Soleil Royal was recommissioned with 112 guns and 1200 men when the Nine Years’ War broke out. She departed Brest on 22 June 1690 as flagship of Anne Hilarion de Tourville. She spent three days in Camaret-sur-Mer waiting for favorable wind before sailing to Isle of Wight where the English fleet was thought to be anchored. Two ships sent in reconnaissance located the English anchored at Beachy Head.
The Battle of Beachy Head (known in French as “Bataille de Béveziers”) began in the morning of the 10 July 1690 when the French surprised the English ships anchored. Soleil Royal led the center of the French formation.
Soleil Royal became a traditional name for capital ships of the Ancient Régime, and several ships bore it afterwards.
A detailed 1/40th scale model of the hull and sculptures was built in 1839 by sculptor and modelist Jean-Baptiste Tanneron. This model is now on display at the Musée national de la Marine in Paris.