To Celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, Cunard has released a collection of rare photographs that document each Cunard ship naming that she attended. It is a wonderful collection and one that I am sure will bring back memories for many people – enjoy!
Launch of Queen Elizabeth – Tuesday 27 September 1938
The first Cunard occasion The Queen, aged 12, attended was the launch of Queen Elizabeth when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by her daughters Elizabeth and Margaret, launched the new Cunard flagship, the biggest liner in the world.
Originally The King was due to attend with his wife to watch proceedings but at the request of the Prime Minister (Neville Chamberlain) he did not travel to the John Brown Shipyard on Clydebank and remained in London as the prospect of another war loomed.
It was the first time the general public had heard the voice of The Queen, which was broadcast over the airwaves. After the speeches there followed a pause in the proceedings to await the moment when the tide was at its correct state. It was during this time that The Queen was presented with an album of photographs of the new liner at varying stages of construction. However, the ship herself was unwilling to wait and slowly she began to move down the slipway. The Queen and the officials around her looked momentarily startled but quickly The Queen released the bottle of wine which fortunately managed to break against the hull.
Launch of Caronia Thursday 30 October 1947
HRH Princess Elizabeth, aged 21, had been asked to perform the launch of Caronia a ship that would become the most luxurious cruise ship in the world and noted for her unusual green livery.
This would be the last public function that the Princess would undertake in the weeks before her marriage to the dashing young Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, who would accompany his bride-to-be to Clydeside of the occasion.
After the launch a ration-breaking lunch of cream of tomato soup; cold turkey, ham and tongue; potato croquette potatoes and green peas; Pear Melba followed by coffee was served.
Launch of Queen Elizabeth 2 Wednesday 20 September 1967
The Queen had her first view of what was to become QE2 as she flew overhead prior to landing at Abbotsinch Airport in Glasgow. She was then driven to the shipbuilder’s offices. There she met by Admiral Sir Angus Cunninghame Graham, Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire who presented Sir Basil Small peice and Lord Aberconway to Her Majesty. After a private luncheon party in the Boardroom the Queen then made the two-minute car journey to the launching berth where she and the Duke spent 20 minutes inspecting the launching arrangements. At precisely 1428 hours on a sunny afternoon Her Majesty stepped forward on the launching platform and said:
“I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second.
“May God Bless her…
[Noise and cheers from the crowd]
“May God Bless her and all who sail in her.”
There was a cheer in the yard from the 30,000 or so spectators as the Queen announced the name. She cut the ribbon using the same gold scissors that her mother had used to launch Queen Elizabeth in 1938 and her grandmother to launch Queen Mary in 1934 which released the bottle of wine which duly smashed onto the side of the newly named liner. She then pressed the button that electrically released the launching trigger.
Then nothing happened. For 70 seconds it seemed as if the ship did not move. The Queen looked amazed; the smile slowly faded from Prince Philip’ s face. Workmen high up on her deck leaned and shouted “Give us a shove!” Shipyard director George Parker joined in the spirit of the request and bowler-hatted, he sprang to the bows and gave the liner a shove. He jubilantly waved his bowler when, by a coincidence, she began to move. In a little over two minutes after the Queen had named her the new Elizabeth had slid smoothly into the Clyde. Newspapers the next day claimed the Queen had wept as the new ship entered the Clyde and that Prince Philip took a white handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. The Queen exclaimed “Oh, look at her, she’ s beautiful” The Queen and the Royal party and guests then went to tea in the works canteen.
Cunard’s 150th Anniversary Celebrations Friday 27 July 1990
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Cunard QE2 undertook a special Round Britain voyage and on 27 July 1990, she arrived and anchored in her allocated position at Spithead. Shortly afterwards she was joined by the Cunarders Vistafjord and Atlantic Conveyor and dozens of private yachts, motor boats and excursion vessels, all keen to take part in the planned Royal Review of Cunard, and Royal Navy ships by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. The Royal Yacht left Portsmouth, led by the Trinity House vessel Patricia and followed by HMS Broadsword, passed the portsides of the anchored Cunarders. A Concorde, a 767 and 747 then made a flypast in salute before the Britannia anchored and a second flypast, consisting of a Sea King, Lynx and Dauphin helicopters and a Harrier jump jet, took place. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh then transferred to the QE2 by Royal Barge and prior to lunch attended receptions in the Queens Room and Grand Lounge. QE2 left her anchorage at 1345 hours and proceeded to her berth in Southampton. This was the first time The Queen had sailed on the ship she had launched 23 years earlier, and it was the first time a Reigning Monarch had sailed on another ship with commercial passengers. The QE2 berthed ahead of Vistafjord and later that evening both ships were serenaded with a firework finale.
The Naming of Queen Mary 2 Thursday 8 January 2004
The Queen broke her long-standing tradition of not performing any public duties while at Sandringham for the Christmas break and for the first time during her reign undertook an official duty in a January when she travelled to Southampton with The Duke of Edinburgh to name Queen Mary 2 –the largest, longest, tallest, widest and most expensive ocean liner ever built. And the first Atlantic liner to enter service in 35 years. The Naming Ceremony was distinctly Cunard and has been acclaimed as the most spectacular ceremony of its kind ever, and featured performances by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (Portsmouth), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, soprano Lesley Garrett – all performing under the direction of one of Britain’s most popular conductors, Anthony Inglis. One heart-stopping moment was provided when singer Heather Small was performing a specially-extended version of her anthem ‘Proud’ and Queen Mary 2 was ‘unveiled’ after a spectacular curtain drop.
Farewell Visit to QE2 Monday 2 June 2008
On the anniversary of her Coronation, The Queen travelled to Southampton to make a farewell visit to QE2 during that vessel’s last months in service. This was a case of history repeating itself as her Mother had paid a farewell to her’ ship Queen Elizabeth in 1968. The Queen toured QE2 and met many of her crew prior to unveiling a specially-commissioned portrait of QE2 called ‘Coming Home’ which depicted the liner making her final entrance into her homeport of Southampton. When that actually happened on 11 November 2008, The Duke of Edinburgh, making his farewell visit to the ship, presented the painting to the City of Southampton as an everlasting reminder of its favourite ship.
Naming Queen Elizabeth Monday 11 October 2010
The Queen named Cunard’s third Queen Elizabeth in Southampton during a spectacular dockside ceremony. Her Majesty could claim the astonishing fact that she was the only person to have attended the launches of all three Cunard ‘Elizabeths’. She accompanied her Mother when 12 years of age to the launch of the first Queen Elizabeth in 1938 and she performed the launch of the second ship to bear the name in 1967. The Queen had sat for a specially-commissioned portrait of herself that was to hang on the new ship and during the tour prior to the Naming she met the artist and viewed the painting for the first time.
All images come courtesy of Cunard.