Today marks a very momentous occasion for Cunard Line as Her Majesty The Queen is aboard her namesake, Queen Elizabeth 2, for a right royal send-off.
More than 40 years after she named the ship on 20 September 1967 in Clydebank, United Kingdom, the monarch is touring the QE2, meeting many crewmembers who have been onboard since the "grande dame" went into service, and having a reception and lunch with 300 invited guests. Those onboard include former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher.
One might say that as godmother, The Queen is the longest-serving female "crewmember" -- but the newest addition to the QE2 team is also playing a part in the day. While on the bridge, The Queen will signal Cadet Jennifer Haynes, who joined QE2 in April 2008, to sound QE2's whistle in a salute to Cunard's current flagship, Queen Mary 2, which is also in port.
After disembarking, Her Majesty will be presented with 55 red roses by QE2's Executive Housekeeper Roz Price Evans, who is the longest-serving female member of crew. This is to mark 55 years to the day since The Queen's Coronation.
The Queen has visited the 70,000-ton, 1,778-passenger ship twice before -- on 1 May 1969, prior to the maiden voyage, and on 27 July 1990, to mark Cunard's 150th anniversary.
QE2 retires from the Cunard fleet in November 2008 when it will become a floating hotel out in Dubai.
Since its launch, QE2 has travelled over 5.6 million nautical miles, carried over 2.5 million guests, completed 25 world cruises and crossed the Atlantic 802 times. Take a look back at the Queen with Cruise Critic's QE2 Memory Book.
--by Kelly Ranson, Associate Editor
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One Queen Says Farewell to Another in Southampton
June 2, 2008