Queen Elizabeth II on board QE2.

After launching one of our most iconic ships, Queen Elizabeth 2, in Clydebank in 1967, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II came to see her namesake ship once again, before she set off on her maiden voyage.

Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the pair arrived in Southampton on 1 May 1969, on the eve of Queen Elizabeth 2’s departure to New York. They spent an hour or so being shown around, and the Queen is said to have remarked ‘it really is very lovely’ to the officers she met.

Then Chairman of Cunard, Sir Basil Smallpeice, recounts in his autobiography that ‘The Queen was in splendid form, talking freely to the officers in the Wardroom and to seamen around the ship.’

During the tour, the Queen noticed the bust of her proudly displayed in the Queens Room, that was specially commissioned for the ship. Created by renowned sculptor Oscar Nemon, Her Majesty went on to relate her experience with the artist: ‘He is a great perfectionist, isn’t he? I have now sat seven times for this bust, and each time he finds something wrong with it, “that’s no good”, he says and wrenches my head off’ – simultaneously using her hands to demonstrate his wringing her neck.

The eye-catching sculpture stayed on board Queen Elizabeth 2 throughout her career, before being transferred to the new Queen Elizabeth. It now stands proudly in the reception of the QE2 Museum in Dubai.

As their time on board came to an end, Her Majesty complimented Cunard on the excellent condition of the ship and wished her a happy maiden voyage and ongoing career.

Cunard's relationship with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Meeting Queen Elizabeth.

In September 1938, a 12-year-old Princess Elizabeth attended the first of what would be many events with Cunard.

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Queen Elizabeth II launches Queen Mary 2.

37 years after she launched Queen Elizabeth 2, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II travelled to launch Queen Mary 2 in Southampton, in January 2004.

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Queen Elizabeth II launches Queen Elizabeth.

In 2010, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II travelled again to Southampton to launch Queen Elizabeth. Sadly, this would be her final ship launch for Cunard.

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A final farewell to a beloved Queen.

Caroline Aston, broadcaster and royal correspondent, shares her reflections from on board as news of Her Majesty's passing spread around the globe.

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