Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Queen names new QE cruise ship in Southampton

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Media captionThe crowd cheered the Queen during the ceremony in Southampton

The Queen has officially named Cunard's new Queen Elizabeth cruise ship in the port of Southampton.

The ship will leave on her maiden voyage to the Canary Islands on Tuesday - a trip that was fully booked less than 30 minutes after going on sale.

The Italian-built, 92,000-tonne, 964ft (294m) long vessel arrived in the city on Friday.

She joins two other "queens" in the Cunard fleet - the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) and the Queen Victoria.

The Queen, dressed in a turquoise silk dress and wool coat, undertook a guided tour of the vessel with the ship's master captain Christopher Wells after first being met by Cunard president Peter Shanks.

Dan Garabette, aged eight, from Kings Worthy School in Winchester, presented her with a posy of flowers.

Prayers were said by the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, before the Queen stepped up to the podium.

'Super liner'

"I name this ship Queen Elizabeth, may God bless her and all who sail in her," Her Majesty said.

Following tradition, the vessel was named with a bottle of Cunard's private label Graves Rothschild white wine, which was smashed across the bow of the ship, rather than Champagne.

Mr Shanks said: "All of us at Cunard feel a great sense of pride in our new ship and today's ceremony.

"This pride stems from the continuation of our distinguished heritage and, of course, from the presence of Her Majesty the Queen."

The hymn Jerusalem was sung by Alexander Howard-Williams and the other music included Handel's Zadok The Priest, Amazing Grace sung by Lesley Garrett, and also Land Of Hope And Glory.

Among the other guests were Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, human rights campaigner and former hostage Terry Waite, TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh, Holby City actor Robert Powell and veteran broadcaster Sir Jimmy Savile.

Sir Jimmy said: "It feels terrific because it's a great day for Britain that we have a home-grown thing like a Cunard super liner come to say goodbye before it sets sail off around the world forever."

Trainee officer and Merchant Navy cadet Jack Kitchen, 22, from near Poole in Dorset, said: "It is quite a big privilege.

"[It is] pretty much the only time we are going to see a ship like this being launched in our careers."

The Coldstream Guards, the Band of the Scots Guards and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performed for the crowds who turned up for the event.

Full of art deco flourishes, the latest Queen Elizabeth recalls the era of the 1930s ocean liners.

The ship features mosaics, chandeliers and cantilever balconies and in the grand lobby is a recently-completed portrait of the Queen by artist Isobel Peachy.

Grand suites

Also in the grand lobby is a panel, created by the Queen's nephew Viscount Linley, depicting the port bow of the original Queen Elizabeth.

Hundreds of onlookers turned out to catch a glimpse of the vessel as she sailed up the Solent on Friday. The vessel is now moored at the city's Ocean Terminal.

Image caption The new liner features three swimming pools and a games deck

The new ship is the third Cunard ship to be named Queen Elizabeth.

The first was launched on the Clyde in Scotland in 1938 by the then Queen Elizabeth - who later became the Queen Mother - with the present Queen, aged 12, looking on.

The Queen launched the second Queen Elizabeth, the QE2, on the Clyde in 1967. She also named the QM2 at Southampton in 2004.

Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) made its last transatlantic crossing in 2008.

The new ship is almost identical to its sister, Queen Victoria, but is more than a third smaller than Cunard largest liner, the QM2.

The 13-night maiden voyage cruise sets off from Southampton at 1700 BST on Tuesday. At the helm will be Cp Chris Wells.

Passengers will be able to enjoy West End-style shows in an 832-seater theatre, visit the spa, games deck and a shopping arcade featuring brand names such as Fortnum & Mason and Harris Tweed.

Of the 1,046 rooms, 71% have balconies. There are four grand suites and two master suites, as well as 25 penthouses.

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