Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall came face-to-face with her own image today in Southampton, England, when she unveiled a specially-commissioned portrait of herself on board Queen Victoria, the Cunard liner named by The Duchess in December 2007. Her Royal Highness made a special return visit to take part in celebrations marking the ship’s fifth anniversary.
“We are delighted that Her Royal Highness joined us for such a special day in the life of the ship and her crew,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “Queen Victoria is very much The Duchess’ ship, and we are honoured that she continues to have such an active interest in the ship and her crew.”
This new portrait of The Duchess is in keeping with the Cunard tradition of commissioning commemorative sculptures or portraits for display on board each ship named by a member of the Royal Family. The three-quarter length artwork shows The Duchess seated and dressed in a cream suit with ruffle detailing. It replaces a photograph of The Duchess which she signed just before naming Queen Victoria, and will be given a prominent place in the ship’s Grand Lobby.
Renowned artist Richard Stone was commissioned by Cunard to paint the new portrait. He has been a portrait painter for 35 years and has painted most members of the Royal Family. The Duchess sat for Stone three times at Clarence House.
“It is a great privilege to be able to step, for a brief time, into the lives of others,” said Stone. “Everyone has the most remarkable story to tell. It’s an honour to be in a situation where the sitter trusts me enough to allow me, through their portrait, to tell some of that story.”
Peter Shanks added, “Tradition is very important to us at Cunard and I am delighted we are able to continue this fine tradition of specially-commissioned Royal portraits for our ships. Cunard is very proud of Queen Victoria, her officers and crew, and this striking portrait attests to our continuing relationship with Her Royal Highness.”
Today’s visit to Queen Victoria by The Duchess of Cornwall also involved The Prince’s Trust. The Trust’s “Get into Customer Service” programme, delivered by Cunard, recently gave twelve local unemployed young people, ages 16 to 23 years, the skills and confidence to find a job in the customer services industry through work placements across four Cunard departments. These young people were on board Queen Victoria to meet Her Royal Highness, who presented to them their certificates for completing the “Get into” programme.
As a Gold Patron of The Prince’s Trust, Cunard has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the youth charity since 2007 and has so far raised nearly $1.3 million for its work in the United Kingdom. Three in four young people supported by The Trust progress into work, education or training.
“We are proud to support The Prince’s Trust – helping young people in today’s challenging world is something we are committed to,” said Peter Shanks.
During her visit to Queen Victoria, The Duchess was greeted and escorted aboard by Peter Shank, president of Cunard Line. Captain Peter Philpott, master of Queen Victoria, then escorted her on a tour of the ship, meeting crew members from all ranks before attending a lunch where she cut a commemorative birthday cake. The Duchess then viewed a plaque marking her visit and signed the Visitors Book (making her third entry in this special book) before departing the ship. Participating in the events was Maureen Ryan, the ship's "madrina," or sponsor, at the ship's float-out from construction in January 2007.
Queen Victoria’s crew lined the three tiers of the Grand Lobby when The Duchess arrived, and embarking passengers line the tiers for her departure.