There’s big news today that the Queen will name Cunard’s new Queen Elizabeth in Southampton on October 11. So for all you royal-watchers out there, here is a bit of Cruise Critic’s own royal ship-naming trivia!
- The first merchant ship launched by a British monarch was the liner Queen Mary in 1934, named by Her Majesty Queen Mary, wife of King George V.
- Our present Queen has launched three Cunard ships: Caronia (when she was still Princess Elizabeth), QE2 in 1967 and Queen Mary 2 in 2004.
- The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, named P&O’s Aurora in 2000, but the champagne bottle failed to smash, considered an ill omen in shipping tradition. The media subsequently had a field day when the ship was hit by a high-profile outbreak of norovirus in 2003 and severe engine trouble in 2005, which led to the cancellation of the world cruise.
- When the Queen Mother launched the original Queen Elizabeth in 1938, the microphone she was using broke so the assembled crowd did not hear her actual announcement, which was drowned out by the ship thundering down the slipway.
- We still don’t really know if QE2, named in 1967, was supposed to be QE2 or simply Queen Elizabeth, which was the original intention. In those days, the name of the ship was not added to the bow until after the ceremony. Dignitaries were simply invited to the ‘Launch of Cunard Liner No. 736’. The Queen allegedly didn’t read the piece of paper she was given and announced: “I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God bless her and all who sail in her.” So the ship became Queen Elizabeth 2…
- …which is not to be confused with Queen Elizabeth II! The numeric 2, it is believed, refers to the ship – the second Queen Elizabeth ship. The Roman II refers to the Queen herself. As the ship was built in Scotland, some say it would have been inappropriate to name it Queen Elizabeth II, as this II refers to the lineage of the throne of England. The first monarch with this name, Elizabeth I (1533-1603), was Queen of England but not Scotland.
- So why not QE3 for the new ship? All we know is that it’s Cunard’s style to have more than one ship of the same name without using numbers; there were two Mauretanias and three Caronias, after all. So naming the new ship Queen Elizabeth is simply reverting to tradition.