Cunard celebrates historic Queen Anne naming ceremony.

By Tony Mallinson

Cunard’s newest ship Queen Anne was centre stage as the luxury cruise line hosted a spectacular naming ceremony* in its spiritual home of Liverpool.

Tens of thousands of people gathered at Liverpool Waterfront to witness the historic celebrations, which featured performances from iconic Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and more.

On-stage proceedings were hosted by Busted musician Matt Willis and TV presenter Emma Willis.

Liverpool was the birthplace of Cunard’s first transatlantic crossing, 184 years ago in May 1840, and was the company’s headquarters for 128 years. The love and affection the people of Liverpool still have for all things Cunard is clear – never more so than when a Cunard ship arrives on the Mersey.

Queen Anne made her maiden call to Cunard’s spiritual home at around 7 am yesterday, ahead of an impressive naming ceremony that marked a new chapter in the luxury cruise line’s 184-year history.

The ceremony opened with a one-of-a-kind performance by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which captivated the audience’s senses through powerful yet delicate melodies.

The City of Liverpool was then named Queen Anne’s Godparent in recognition of the long-lasting bond with its spiritual home.

Five Liverpool icons** were invited on stage to represent the city, including former Spice Girl and author Melanie C, broadcaster and community leader Ngunan Adamu, local restaurant entrepreneur Natalie Haywood, Liverpool music and cultural legend Jayne Casey, and British Olympian heptathlon athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

These distinguished women, who embody the heart and future of Liverpool, just as Queen Anne does for Cunard, were chosen because of their significant contributions to culture at a local, national or international level.

The iconic smashing of the Champagne bottle against the ship signified this historic moment and wished the vessel and its crew good fortune on its future voyages.

To top the bill, operatic superstar Andrea Bocelli ended the event with an unforgettable performance of two of his iconic songs, ‘It’s Time to Say Goodbye’.

Katie McAlister, President of Cunard, said: I would like to thank our Liverpool Icons, these amazing women, for representing the city and taking part in this historic ceremony and to all of the people of Liverpool for once again opening your hearts and welcoming Cunard and Queen Anne.

Spice Girl, DJ and author Melanie C said: “I’ve always been incredibly proud of my Liverpool heritage, for generations my family worked at the docks so it truly is a special honour for me to be recognised at today’s ceremony. My life and career have been heavily influenced by the artistic brilliance of the city and days like today are the perfect way to celebrate how Liverpool continues to thrive.”

Three-time British Olympian heptathlon athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson said:Liverpool is my hometown and it’s always been a place of great pride and inspiration for me, the support and encouragement I received from the local community have been instrumental in my journey. Through the KJT Academy, I have been able to provide opportunities for aspiring athletes from state schools and diverse ethnic communities, working alongside the Liverpool FC Foundation to deliver accessible community athletics programmes.  I’m delighted to be able to play a part in this incredible ceremony and to be able to leave a legacy of opportunity for future generations in Liverpool.”

Broadcaster and community leader Ngunan Adamu, said: “I’m delighted to have been chosen to represent the city in recognition of my work as a broadcaster and community advocate.  I take immense pride in hosting BBC Radio Merseyside’s ‘Upfront’ show, which celebrates over 40 years of African Caribbean culture and heritage.  The rich diversity and cultural tapestry of Liverpool have profoundly influenced my work and commitment to empowering women globally through iWoman Media Ltd and iWoman Academy, promoting diversity and inclusion throughout the region. It is an honour to be here today.”

Liverpool music and cultural legend Jayne Casey said:Growing up in Liverpool, I have always been passionate about supporting music and culture in our city.  The vibrant art scene and strong sense of identity in Liverpool have shaped my career. Being part of a community that cherishes its heritage while embracing innovation is an honour. Through my journey I’ve been privileged to contribute to this legacy, and I continue to run a live music venue that celebrates this rich heritage. I strive to leave a legacy that honours Liverpool’s artistic spirit and celebrates our city’s cultural contributions to the world.”

Local restaurant entrepreneur Natalie Haywood, said:The entrepreneurial spirit and strong sense of community in Liverpool have been key influences in my career.  Through my three independent restaurants, I’ve had the privilege to not only showcase local talent but also to champion local employment, creating meaningful opportunities within our community. I hope to be able to leave behind a lasting legacy of innovation and support for other local businesses and the people of Liverpool.”

Opera Superstar, Andrea Bocelli, said: “Performing at the naming ceremony of Queen Anne has been a profound honour. The significance of this occasion, coupled with the genuine warmth of the reception I received was overwhelming and made this experience truly unforgettable. It was also an honour to perform next to such a beautiful, Italian-crafted ship.”

Event hosts Matt and Emma Willis, said: “Hosting the naming ceremony of Queen Anne has been such a fun experience. The atmosphere here in Liverpool has been electric – from the incredible performances to the beautiful Queen Anne herself – it’s been a brilliant event and we’ve loved being involved!”

Some of The Sovereign Cruise Club Senior Team were present in Liverpool to witness the historic occasion and cheered the ship as she made an emotional departure under the fireworks back to her home port of Southampton.

For more information on Queen Anne or the other Cunard Queen’s please see our website www.sovereigncruise.co.uk. To book your next Cunard cruise at the guaranteed lowest fares, please call us on 03331 224466.

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