In what is believed to be the largest Diamond Jubilee celebration outside London, all three ships of the Cunard Line fleet – flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth – sailed up Southampton Water in formation for the first time today, Tuesday 5 June, in preparation for a day of special tributes, celebrations and displays to mark Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Her Majesty The Queen has long been associated with Cunard, being the only person to have attended the naming of all three Cunard Elizabeths, beginning in 1938 with the original Queen Elizabeth, then in 1967 when she launched Queen Elizabeth 2 and 2010 when she named Queen Elizabeth.
This is the first time that the three Queens – the largest Cunarders ever built – have been seen arriving and departing together in formation at their home port of Southampton, England.
Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 approached the port soon after first light today, sailing in single file up Southampton Water, where a flotilla of small boats welcomed them.
Queen Mary 2 turned in the upper swinging ground as Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria tied up close to City Terminal. Queen Mary 2 then slowly passed each ship in turn, creating a three ship formation and revealing a Congratulations Maam message by her funnel. With crew lining the foredecks of all three vessels, the ships' whistles sounded in salute of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee.
Cunard is delighted to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in a way that gives everyone, especially our guests, a truly remarkable day that they will feel proud to talk about for years to come, taking part in history and marking the sixty glorious years of Her Majesty's reign in fitting, legendary and memorable Cunard style, said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line.
Events are planned through this evening to create both an outstanding guest experience and a fitting commemoration of Her Majesty's reign. The celebrations will culminate in an evening spectacular when all three ships will again be brought within close proximity of each other, and from 10.20pm GMT, a fusillade of fireworks and special effects will light up the evening sky beyond them.
Queen Mary 2 will then lead Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth in single file down Southampton Water as all three ships set out on their celebratory Diamond Jubilee voyages.