Cunard President Peter Shanks with David LinleyYesterday, in Chelsea near London, Cunard Line unveiled the stunning centerpiece for the Grand Lobby of the Line’s newest ship, Queen Elizabeth, debuting this fall. The artwork was specially commissioned to David Linley, son of the late Princess Margaret and the internationally famous photographer Lord Snowdon – and Her Majesty The Queen's only nephew – whose company specializes in the design and creation of fine furniture and marquetry.
 
Work is already underway, and the completed 18 and a half foot panel will be shipped this summer to the Fincantieri shipyard at Monfalcone, Italy, where it will be installed over a four-day period to take pride of place at the heart of the ship just before she enters service in October.
 
Linley’s magnificent work shows the port bow of the original Queen Elizabeth seen dramatically from sea level, and is intricately executed using the technique of marquetry inlay with nine individual panels made of various types of wood veneers seamlessly jointed to lightweight board. Featured woods are Madrona, Indian ebony, American walnut, grey ripple sycamore, burr ash, bird’s eye maple, satin walnut, ash, burr walnut and Macassar ebony – all utilized to depict the evocative image of one of Cunard’s most elegant Queens.
 
Designers for the new Queen Elizabeth’s interiors considered the best way to treat the Grand Lobby’s soaring central arched space on the sweeping staircase leading up from the main deck, as it is the first area to greet embarking guests.
 
“We needed to fill that space with a decorative screen which would not just be dramatic – a ‘wow’ factor in an area already full of ‘wow’ – but which would also reflect our emphasis on traditional and sumptuous materials,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “After much thought and exploratory work, it was decided to commission a marquetry panel depicting the original Queen Elizabeth, an Art Deco icon, using a variety of natural woods from around the world.
 
“Once we had decided on the theme and the medium,” Shanks continued, “it didn’t take us long to conclude that no one was better qualified for this detailed but monumental work than the company of the exceptional craftsman David Linley, whose creative ability and mastery of wood is renowned.”
 
“Though we have made fittings for luxury yachts in the past,” said Linley, who founded his company in 1985, “this is the first sea-going work we have done on this scale – it is certainly the largest screen we have ever made – but it was a commission I was delighted to accept. I recall my father saying the interior design on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 made one proud to be British, so I am hoping our achievement on the new Queen Elizabeth will make him – and others – equally proud.”
 
Queen Elizabeth will be the second largest Cunarder ever built and will join her sisters, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, as part of the youngest fleet in the world. The first Queen Elizabeth was one of Cunard’s greatest ships, and the new Queen Elizabeth will reflect her predecessor in interior grandeur, décor and style, but with a modern twist.
 
Queen Elizabeth will depart on her Maiden Voyage on Tuesday 12 October 2010. This 13-night celebration will leave from the company’s home port, Southampton, and will call at Vigo, Lisbon, Cadiz, Las Palmas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (overnight call) and Funchal. She will then embark on five celebratory maiden voyages to the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Caribbean.