Friday, 30 May 2008
Farewell to a Cunard Queen.
The advent of the jet aircraft was the death knell of the great liners and Cunard, committed to the construction of Queen Mary's replacement, the QE2, needed to sell the old Queen to pay the bills. Very narrowly, Queen Mary 2 was sold to Longbeach California where she lies in state to this day as an hotel and tourist attraction, having very nearly been sold to Japanese scrap merchants.
Ship have a strange effect of those of us who love them. I'm sure that I'm not alone in being moved by a long blast from a ship's whistle. The only time our present Monarch, Queen Elizabeth 2nd has cried in public, was at the farewell of her beloved yacht Britannia. Ships are far, far more than the sum of their parts, they carry with them the spirits of all those who travelled in them and few ships have the service record of the mighty Queen Mary.
After 1001 crossings of the Atlantic, she sailed on her final journey, from Southampton to Longbeach. So much history, so much tradition, it is hard to imagine a ship more reflective of the true magnificence of the great ocean liners than is Queen Mary. The ocean she spanned with safety and distinction for so many years is still the most important bridge in humanity, that between the United States and Europe, connecting the new world with the old, and although the bulk of traffic these days flies over the ocean rather than upon it, an important, industry changing decision was made by Cunard on June 7th, 1998, which not only refreshed the memory of this mighty Cunard Queen, but announced the birth of a new and exciting Cunader bearing her famous Royal name, opening the seas to a new generation and enabling thousands, once more, to cross the Atlantic in comfort, in safety and in style.
Farewell to the Royal Mail Steamer, QUEEN MARY. Long upon the sea, longer upon the memory. Longest in the heart.