Queen Elizabeth II launches Queen Mary 2.

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

It was to be a truly memorable day that is still widely regarded as one of the most spectacular of its kind, with performances by a host of special guests. The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (Portsmouth), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and soprano Lesley Garrett all performed under the direction of one of Britain’s most eminent conductors, Anthony Inglis.

The unveiling of the ship itself has been described as one of the most dramatic reveals. A gray silk curtain dropped behind the stage while British soul singer Heather Small performed an extended version of her well-loved anthem, ‘Proud’.

This momentous day was indeed the first time during her long reign that Her Majesty had performed an official duty in January, and this was not the only precedent broken. The Queen did something that had never before occurred at the launch of a Cunard ship; she broke a bottle of Champagne across the bow.

Because of the decades old rivalry between Cunard and The French Line, historically Cunard had always refused to use French Champagne at our ship launches. Before the naming of Queen Mary 2, The Queen, her mother, her grandmother, and the dozens of Sponsors of earlier ships had all used a bottle of Empire wine for this iconic part of the ceremony.

Queen Mary 2 was the first of our ships to be blessed with Champagne before sailing and, fittingly, featured the first ever Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar at sea.

Our relationship with the Royal family has long been a source of pride here at Cunard, and to share these new ‘firsts’ with Her Majesty was an honor.

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.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

Queen Elizabeth II launches Queen Elizabeth.

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

Find out more

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.

Find out more