Queen Elizabeth: a new British icon

//Queen Elizabeth: a new British icon

IMG_1067.jpgAs Cunard President Peter Shanks pointed out, three of his company’s ships have carried the name Queen Elizabeth. And only one person at the naming of the latest vessel in Southampton yesterday could claim to have been present at all three launches – the Queen herself.
At the first, on Clydeside in 1938, she was a 12-year-old Princess accompanying her mother.
In 1967, again on Clydeside, she launched its successor, whose name until she pronounced it had been a closely-guarded secret. Cunard bosses were surprised when she went off-script and called the liner “Queen Elizabeth the Second” – it had never been Cunard’s intention to add the number.
There were no such slip-ups yesterday. Dressed in a matching blue coat and hat she toured the ship which bears her name and even gave a toot on the whistle while being shown around the bridge by Captain Christopher Wells, before pressing the button (above) to send a jeroboam of white wine crashing against the hull (below).
Shanks dedicated the ship to Her Majesty and claimed it to be “quintessentially British,” although he accepted that it had to be built in Italy rather than the UK.
He said it would have an international appeal which will boost Britain’s economy by “easing dollars from American pockets, euros from French and German pockets, yen from the Japanese and roubles from the Russians.”
Music to the ears of his boss, Carnival Corporation chairman Micky Arison and, I hope, Transport Minister Philip Hammond, who were among the hundreds of invited guests.
During her brief look around the ship, The Queen saw an 18-ft marquetry panel designed and made by her nephew Viscount Linley and the newly completed portrait of herself by artist Isobel Peachey.
Simon Weston, Sir Jimmy Savile, Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Vorderman and a bowler-hatted Esther Rantzen were among the other guests, joined by former Coronation Street’s Vera Duckworth – actress Liz Dawn – in a wheelchair because she is suffering from emphysema.
On the quayside we were entertained by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, together with the massed bands of the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards evoking the patriotic spirit of the Last Night of the Proms.
And then as quickly as she had arrived – having flown down from Balmoral – The Queen was off again, this time heading for Windsor.
She probably had time to reflect that, having been present at three Queen Elizabeth namings, it’s most unlikely the foreseeable future will bring a fourth for Cunard, although a new £1.9 billion aircraft carrier bearing her name is scheduled to enter service with the Royal Navy in 2016 – provided it survives the government cut-backs.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:19+00:00 12 October 2010|Cruise News|2 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. David Hood 12 October 2010 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    As a recent Cunard Gold Member,and looking forward to a round-Britain voyage on the new QE next September, I was delighted that Her Majesty named ths ship yesterday. However, I was very disappointed that the BBC totally ignored the occasion on their main News channels. A sign of the times, perhaps?

  2. Richard White 12 October 2010 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    I hope she slips out of Southampton Water silently, with a bit of class.
    OK, many people in Southampton rely on the cruise industry but plenty of us are fed up with the over the top, noisy, late night fireworks. Surely after 9pm, operators should be forced to tone down the send off.

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