Diamond Jubilee: City welcomes Cunard's Three Queens

It is the first time all three of the ships have been in Southampton together

Three cruise ships have left Southampton after events to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee finished with a firework display.

Cunard vessels Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria had sailed up the Solent at dawn alongside a flotilla of small boats.

The Red Arrows had been due to perform above the city but were unable to because of bad weather.

The day culminated in the 20-minute firework display with live music.

Hundreds of people lined Southampton dockside to watch the three ships arrive in formation and sound their horns in salute, shortly after 06:00 BST.

A giant banner reading "Congratulations Ma'am" was unfurled alongside the funnel of Queen Mary 2.

'Lump to the throat'

The Queen performed the naming ceremony for Queen Elizabeth in 2010 and Queen Mary 2 in 2004.

A Cunard spokeswoman said: "Cunard is proud of its association with Her Majesty and we are delighted to be able to honour her on this special day.

"It brought a lump to the throat when you saw these three magnificent ships together."

The best vantage points for the celebrations were at Hythe, Town Quay and Mayflower Park.

'Historic occasion'

Mayflower Park hosted an all-day celebration with free live entertainment, international food and a funfair.

Councillor Warwick Payne, from Southampton City Council, said he was delighted to see the city playing its part in the weekend's celebrations.

He said: "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee is a special and historic occasion and it's fitting that Southampton will be celebrating in such style."

The celebrations came to a head in an evening spectacular when all three ships were brought together, as fireworks and special effects lit up the evening sky.

Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth passed in single file down the Solent as all three ships set out on their celebratory Diamond Jubilee voyages, carrying a total of about 6,000 passengers.

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