Cunard’s much-awaited new ocean liner, the 2,092-passenger Queen Elizabeth, was christened today by HRM Queen Elizabeth today in Southampton, England.
(Left: Queen Elizabeth christens the Cunard Liner Queen Elizabeth.) Great Britian’s HRM Queen Elizabeth II today christened the historic Cunard Line’s third ship to bear the Queen Elizabeth name in a rousing dockside ceremony along the Southampton waterfront.
“I name this ship Queen Elizabeth,” the monarch said after taking the podium in front of 1,600 invited guests, uttering the traditional words delivered at so many ship launches. “May God bless her and all who sail in her.”
Dressed in a teal blue coat and matching teal hat, the 84-year-old monarch then watched with the crowd as a jeroboam of 2009 Baron Philippe de Rothschild wine was sent smashing against the 2,092-passenger vessel — the successor to the famed QE2 and one of the year’s most anticipated new ships.
As Cunard managing director Peter Shanks had noted just moments earlier during official remarks, the Queen was reprising a roll she played in 1967 at the launch of the QE2, which was retired in 2008.
The Queen also was present as a 12-year-old at the naming of the first Queen Elizabeth, named by her mother.
“The fact is that Her Majesty has a longer association with Cunard than any employee of Cunard,” Shanks said as he thanked the monarch for the time she has given the 170-year-old British line.
“Only one person here can claim presence at all three Elizabeth namings, and that person is her majesty, the queen,” Shanks said, turning toward the monarch. “This, your majesty, is without a doubt your ship.”
In keeping with Cunard tradition, the 75-minute, invitation-only event was filled with pomp and pageantry that began long before the Queen arrived.
As a full symphony and chorus from Bournmouth, England played Handel’s uplifting coronation music Zadok the Priest, the audience was treated to historic videos from earlier Cunard ship namings on two giant screens as well as live shots of the Queen as she arrived on board.
Queen Elizabeth’s captain, Chris Wells, gave the Queen a tour of the ship’s bridge and other public areas — broadcast to the crowd sitting in stands below.
In one amusing moment that drew laughter from the crowd, the queen was seen testing out the button for the ship’s horn, which then blasted across the dockyard.
While she was aboard, the Royal Standard was flown from the ship’s top deck.
In addition to the assembled orchestra and chorus, several UK military bands in full regalia performed at the ceremony, including the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Irish Guard.
Also performing was Lesley Garrett, a well-known British soprano, and celebrated Scottish bagpiper Louise Marshall Millington.