In recognition of Cunard's longest-serving ocean liner leaving the fleet in November, Her Majesty The Queen made her farewell visit to Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton today.
The Queen began by touring the vessel and meeting many crew members, some of whom have served on board since QE2 entered service in 1969 and others who went with the ship when she was requisitioned as a troop carrier in the Falklands Conflict. Later she attended a reception and lunch on board with 300 guests, including former Prime Minister Baroness Carol Thatcher.
Both the newest and longest-serving female crewmembers played a role in the visit. While on the bridge, The Queen gave a signal to Cadet Jennifer Haynes, who joined QE2 in April 2008, to sound QE2's whistle to salute Cunard's current flagship Queen Mary 2, which was also in port today and was named by The Queen in January 2004. Queen Mary 2 responded by sounding her whistle in salute of Her Majesty's visit. After disembarking, Her Majesty was presented with 55 red roses by QE2's Executive Housekeeper Roz Price Evans who is the longest-serving female member of crew; the gesture marked 55 years to the day since The Queen's Coronation.
The Queen also met nine QE2 Captains including Captain Peter Jackson who became Master of QE2 in 1973 and who took the ship to the Falklands in 1982.
Her Majesty The Queen has visited QE2 twice since the launch - on May 1, 1969, immediately prior the Maiden Voyage, and on July 27, 1990 to mark Cunard Line's 150th anniversary.
"We are delighted and honoured that Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to visit QE2 to wish her farewell. Her Majesty has taken a close interest in the ship over the last forty years, having launched the ship, visited twice and reviewed the ship four times, including during the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of D Day. I am certain this final visit will be a memorable occasion for all involved," said Carol Marlow, president and managing director of Cunard Line.
QE2, the most famous ship in the world, and for 35 years the flagship of the Cunard fleet, was launched by The Queen at Clydebank on September 20, 1967 - forty years ago last year.
Since then the ship has travelled over 5.6 million nautical miles, more than any other ship; has carried over 2.5 million guests; has completed 25 World Cruises; and has crossed the Atlantic 803 times. She leaves Cunard service in November 2008 prior to starting a new life in Dubai as a first class hotel and entertainment destination.