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Correct! I was surprised that the answer did not come from one of our UK members.
French Emporer Napolean III's navy launched the ironclad frigate Gloire in 1859, and the British Royal Navy launched the ironclad HMS Warrior, designated a first rate ship of the line and the longest, fastest, and most powerfully armed warship built up to that time, in 1860.
HMS Warrior is still afloat and can be toured at Portsmouth, England. see www.hmswarrior.org I did so a few years ago and she is an impressive ship.
The Monitor and Virginia (correct name of what is sometimes called the ''Merrimack'') were not launched until 1862. Indeed, they were not even the first operational ironclads or first ironclad in battle in the War Between the States. That distinction belongs to the ironclad ram CSS Manassass launched in New Orleans in 1861.
Two other European nations had ironclads in service prior to the Monitor and Virginia, Italy and Austria, both of which launched ironclads in 1861. These nations had just fought a war in 1859 in which Italy had wrested Milan and Lombardy away from Austria, and it badly wanted to also take Venice and as much of the old Venetian territory down the east coast of the Adriatic as it could from Austria. Indeed the only fleet action between ironclads ever fought was the Battle of Lissa in 1866 in the Austro-Prussian War, in which a smaller Austrian fleet decisively defeated the Italians. Here is a site with some images of that one and only fleet action between ironclads ever fought: www.lissa.net/orleans/LIsola_di_Lissa/lissab.html
Thanks for this question. Having learned of the Monitor and Merrimack nee Virginia in grade school with no mention ever of ironclads elsewhere, I always presumed these were the world's firsts. Oh well, another bit of enlightenment learned here on TUG!