Though Cunard’s RMS Queen Elizabeth II attracted enormous publicity at the time, a great project and a thing of modern beauty in herself, there was even then something slightly sad about the occasion. It was clear that she represented more or less the last of something, the end of the era of transatlantic liners. Elegance and leisurely travel were making way for rapidity and practicality.
QE2 had been constructed by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in Clydebank at the John Brown Shipyard there, her keel laid in July 1965. She was intended to be a replacement for the ageing liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, though smaller than those craft, and with a dual function – to carry passengers to and fro across the Atlantic in the summer, and at other times to serve as a cruise ship.
Fittingly it was Queen Elizabeth II who launched and christened the ship on September 20 1967; and even more fittingly she used the same pair of golden scissors that had been used by her mother and grandmother in launching the previous Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary. Large crowds witnessed the event, drawn from all over the West of Scotland and well beyond; and TV crews captured the moment to relay to the rest of the nation that night.
The QE2 finally left service as a cruise ship in 2008, having reportedly travelled further than any other liner.