September 21, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth’s maiden voyage – 21 days
Welcome to another Blog from sunny Monfalcone in Italy. As the world awaits our new Queen, I can tell you that our latest Cunarder is looking stunning with just three weeks to go before her maiden voyage. Over this last weekend, the crew moved on board their new home for the first time and I’ll have pictures and news about that on Thursday. There are more and more crew arriving everyday, with over three quarters of the ships company already here, and in my next post I’ll let you know how everyone is settling in.
Today I am excited to tell you about a special unveiling that took place last night at a private event at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I wasn’t able to get back from Italy to present the latest Vlog, so who better to tell you more about the evening, than Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks.
As you saw in the Vlog, in line with the Cunard tradition of commissioning appropriate sculpture or portraits for display on board each ship named by a member of the Royal Family, the company commissioned this official portrait of The Queen for Queen Elizabeth, which will be named by Her Majesty next month. Here are some photographs from the function last night where the portrait was revealed.
The Queen granted three sittings for the portrait which is a three-quarter length painting showing her dressed in blue and wearing Queen Victoria’s collet necklace and earrings, which she also wore for her Coronation in 1953.
The new official portrait unveiled by the artist last night shows The Queen in the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, and as you saw in the Vlog, it was painted by 31-year-old Lancashire-born Isobel Peachey.
Although an accomplished award-winning portrait artist, she had never before been commissioned to paint a royal portrait. Talking about how she was chosen, Isobel said:
“At my interview with Cunard, I answered many questions about how I would approach an important commission, but it was only at the end of the interview that the subject was revealed as The Queen. This was both a shock and a marvellous surprise”.
Commenting on how the artist was chosen, Peter Shanks, told me:
“Apart from being impressed by the quality of Isobel’s work, which we originally saw on display in the National Portrait Gallery, we were keen to offer the commission to a young artist who had never before had such an opportunity. Isobel is, in fact, the youngest female artist ever to paint the monarch, and the quality of the finished work is such that our confidence has been greatly rewarded. It is a truly wonderful picture of Her Majesty. It is even more remarkable when you consider that, lacking a private studio, she executed this magnificent painting in her mum’s attic!”
Her Majesty will see the finished portrait for the first time on 11 October, when she visits Southampton to name Queen Elizabeth. The portrait will hang in a prominent position in the ship’s Grand Lobby on deck 2, near the B Stairway and Cafe Carinthia,
In fact this photo gives you an idea of how Queen Elizabeth is progressing inside. I took this picture just yesterday and it shows how close our new Queen is to completion. The furniture is now coming on board, but the artwork, carpets and furnishings are all under protective coverings until the ship is handed over to Cunard at the end of the month.
Speaking of artwork you’ll be delighted to hear that the magnificent Linley artwork has now been carefully placed in its new home in the Grand Lobby and as you can see in this photo, it really looks wonderful.
As I mentioned I’ll have more news from Queen Elizabeth on Thursday with the latest photos of the ship and the crew who are now preparing the latest Cunarder for service. Then on Monday I’ll have a special President’s Blog paying tribute to Captain Nick Bates.
Cheers for now, Alastair