Thursday, October 14, 2010

Queen Elizabeth Naming: “Pomp & Circumstance Fit For A Queen”...

As Alastair Greener, Queen Elizabeth's Entertainment Director put it, “Nobody does that like the British.”

At a question-and-answer session the day before the Queen Elizabeth naming ceremony, Peter Shanks, CEO and Managing Director of Cunard Line, told those of us in the American media group that his mission was to make the hairs on the back of our necks stand up during the proceedings. He certainly accomplished that goal. While we were disappointed that no personal photography would be allowed during the event, we were assured there would be photos and video available for us to share.

As promised, here is the video of naming ceremony highlights as well as footage of The Queen inspecting the ship named in her honor. I've added Mr. Shanks' prepared remarks below, but two things stand out for me. One is the amount of time The Queen spent personally interacting with the officers on the ship's bridge and secondly, Her Majesty's impish smile at about 5:44 in the video.

Remarks from Peter Shanks:
Your Majesty, distinguished guests

In our 170-year history, Cunard has owned three ships bearing the name Queen Elizabeth.

The first was launched in 1938.
The second was launched in 1967.
And the third is being named today, in 2010.

And there is only one person here who can claim presence at all three Elizabeth namings: and that person is ... Her Majesty The Queen. The fact is, Her Majesty has a longer association with Cunard than any of us currently employed at Cunard. And it gives me enormous pride and pleasure, on behalf of the company, to welcome Your Majesty and to thank you for again being so generous with your time.

The first Queen Elizabeth was launched at Clydebank on 27 September 1938 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, better known to us now as The Queen Mother. She was
accompanied by the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

The largest ship ever built at that time, Queen Elizabeth was denied the glamorous celebrity-packed Maiden Voyage experienced by her sister Queen Mary in 1936, complete with its rapturous, triumphant entry into New York. Instead, built on the eve of war, she went unfinished into trooping duties which Sir Winston Churchill credited with shortening the war for the benefit of us all.

In the peace that followed she did what Cunard ships were intended to do, and crossed and recrossed the Atlantic like a shuttle in a gigantic loom, weaving together the Old World with the New. She carried movie stars and magnates, entrepreneurs and emigrants in the British style for which Cunard is rightly famous.

The second Queen Elizabeth, perhaps better known as QE2 and also built at Clydebank, was launched by Her Majesty The Queen on 20 September 1967. A style icon of her age, combining the ultra contemporary with Cunard tradition, she exuded a design perfection that Lord Snowdon said she made him proud to be British. She was superlative in every way. She was the longest-serving of all Cunard liners. She travelled more miles and called at more ports than any other ship in history. She was, arguably, the most famous and best loved ship in the world.

Like her namesake, QE2 also served her country in exemplary fashion in time of war. Who can forget her triumphant return to Southampton after the 3,000 mile journey from the South Atlantic bearing survivors of the conflict in 1982? Who did not feel a patriotic tingle as she was welcomed home into Southampton Water by the Queen Mother on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, and by thousands of flag-waving wellwishers on shore?

And the third Queen Elizabeth is the magnificent vessel you see behind me now. While she could not be built in Clydebank, she nonetheless exudes Britishness in the Cunard manner, and she will carry the name of Southampton on her stern around the globe. Those of you who have been on board know that her grand and spacious public rooms make her, like her predecessors, quintessentially British, But like them, she has an international appeal, an appeal which will boost the British economy by gently easing dollars from American pockets, Euros from French and German pockets, yen from the Japanese and roubles from the Russians.

Many representatives of these countries, and others, are with us today. I thank them for undertaking their journeys to be here–journeys that would have been inestimably more enjoyable and relaxing had they come by sea!

And I must also thank the workers of the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone who not only built this ship in record time, but on time. I was tempted to say that a monument should be erected to celebrate their achievement, but there is no need of one: here it is as much their monument as St Paul’s Cathedral is a monument to the remarkable talents of Sir Christopher Wren.

It is amazing to think that Cunard, one of the oldest name sin shipping, is now reborn with the world’s youngest fleet. The previous two Elizabeths marked significant new eras for Cunard; this Elizabeth does likewise.

Many claim the souls of ships as their own: the shipping companies, the shipyards, the home ports, the Captains. But the essence of this ship belongs to one person: the person for whom it is named. This, Your Majesty, on the eve of your Jubilee Year, is without doubt your ship.

And your ship will be guided though the world’s waters by Captain Wells, his officers and his crew. I can do no more than echo to him the words of Samuel Cunard to his first master, Captain Woodruff, as the company’s first ship Britannia left Liverpool 170 years ago: “Your ship is loaded: take her; Speed is nothing; follow your own road; deliver her safe, bring her back safe. Safety is all that is required.”

A message from Cunard’s past is just as relevant for this new ship, which together with Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria represents the future.

But the safe and happy passage of ships depends not just on the skill of the Master and crew, nor on our good wishes. It depends also, of course, on God’s amazing grace.
Mr. Shanks shares his thoughts about the day and a bit of behind-the-scenes info about The Queen's ship tour in the We Are Cunard blog.

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