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.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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