June 11, 2012
Posted in: Forever Cunard
Well the Jubilee weekend across the UK was indeed as marvellous as expected – despite our famous British weather. I am sure many of you will have seen the coverage of the events in London. The River Pageant was remarkable but very wet. To see all those boats on the Thames and the many hundreds of thousands of spectators was a treat – and thank goodness that the Duke of Edinburgh is back to his normal rude health after his short stay in hospital. The concert outside Buckingham Palace was terrific – not least for seeing our old rockers Sir Tom Jones, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney doing what they do best. The staging, lighting and fireworks that were so impressive were put together by Robbie Williams. That is not Robbie the singer – but the very same Robbie who managed the naming ceremonies of Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth – put simply he is the best in the business and it certainly showed at the Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace.
And so to the Tuesday and our own modest three queens tribute to Her Majesty. Would it finally stop raining – no. Was it a success – yes. We have prepared a short video of the day – but before you watch it let me share how the day went for me.
Up early – at 0500 I was standing on the roof of our building watching our three ships come up Southampton water. When you organise a three queens meeting – this is our fourth – it is always a relief when the ships show up. I remember standing in the freezing cold in New York in 2008 thinking – where on earth is QE2?
At 0615 I was down in Mayflower Park in Southampton – it was amazing to see so many local people so early in the morning. We did live TV and Radio interviews and that was the point when I first saw our very large banner on top of Queen Mary 2 saying ‘Congratulations Ma’am’. It looked terrific and I hope that at some point Her Majesty is shown a picture of that – and our warm tribute to her Jubilee. There was some debate about the banner – but I think it shows that we have a sense of humour and it certainly made an impression.
At 0800 I was having breakfast with our Hotel Manager in the Officers Mess aboard Queen Elizabeth. Well – when you get up that early you can justify bacon and eggs.
Throughout the rest of the day I was able to visit all three ships. For them it was a busy time – 6,600 guests disembarking and 6,600 embarking – and probably in excess of 20,000 suitcases to be looked after.
Throughout the day I kept wondering if the weather would stay dry enough for the Red Arrows display. By the time it got to 1700 and I was welcoming our VIP and press group onto Queen Elizabeth – we had lost the Red Arrows – they don’t do horizontal rain and wind. So –along with our 6,600 guests on the three ships – we had to settle for a lovely Cunard dinner instead.
The Red Arrows pilots were however keen to come and see Queen Elizabeth and have some supper. They had a busy day as they had flown over Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty earlier that afternoon. When I welcomed them on board the Grand Lobby was packed. I have to own up here to a very corny line – as I asked them to come and join me on the stairs below our wonderful Linley marquetry I asked them to do so in perfect formation, which of course they did. We gave them a lovely supper, they met lots of guests and much to their pleasure we showed them the engine room.
The last part of the day was the gathering of the three queens and the firework tribute to Her Majesty. I had mentioned in a speech to our guests earlier that evening that given the weather they would either hear or see the fireworks. Well – let me tell you – they were the best fireworks I have heard in a long time.
Have a look at our short video of the day;
As the fireworks finished, and we were standing on the top deck of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 sailed past right in front of us. I have to admit that she is the most special ship in our fleet; in fact I would and could argue that she is the most special ship in the world. That is not because I am any less proud of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth; it is simply because Queen Mary 2 is the most awesome ship afloat. And on this special day it was a reminder that she and her sister were christened by Her Majesty The Queen. I was reminded of the fact that Her Majesty first experienced Cunard when she was just 12 years old. She was present as her mother christened our original Queen Elizabeth in 1938. And now some 74 years later we play our modest part in celebrating her remarkable 60 years on the throne.
Her Majesty The Queen is a remarkable lady – all of us at Cunard are proud to maintain our special relationship with the Royal Family and to be part of their considerable interest in all things maritime. I hope that all of our guests – and our bloggers – enjoyed our three queens tribute. It was the least we could do.