Thousands watch as Cunard’s Queen Anne named

The Queen Anne is named
Five women took part in the ceremony [PA Media]

Thousands have gathered for the official naming of Cunard's new ship Queen Anne on Liverpool's waterfront.

Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm and Olympic athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson were among five women to represent Liverpool at the ceremony as the city was made the godparent of the cruise line's newest ship.

The stars took to the stage at the city's Pier Head and pulled the lever which released a 12-litre bottle of Champagne to smash against the side of Queen Anne, the 249th Cunard ship.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed to close the ceremony, accompanied by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mel C said it was an "honour" to be asked to represent the city.

"We are such a proud city and it's great to have a day like today where we can celebrate that.

"I have a history of many generations before me of my family who worked at the docks and I think they would be very proud of me seeing me here today in this role.

She was joined by Johnson-Thompson and broadcaster Ngunan Adamu, restaurant entrepreneur Natalie Haywood and artistic director Jayne Casey.

She said it was "an incredible collection of women" who had been chosen to represent the city.

"Girl power in the air today and its really nice to see and to come together to celebrate," she said.

Crowd at Pier Head for Queen Anne naming ceremony
Crowds joined the celebrations as the Queen Anne remained in the middle of the River Mersey [Liverpool City Council]
Cunard cruise ship the Queen Anne is escorted by a tug boat on the River Mersey
The cruise ship was escorted into the River Mersey by fire tugs earlier [PA Media]

The 113,000 tonne ship, which houses 3,000 guests and has 14 decks, set off on its maiden voyage from Southampton on 3 May and has stopped off in Liverpool as it travels around the British Isles.

Captain Inger Thorhauge said the ceremony marked a "milestone" for the company as it moved into the future with new technology, more modern features and more dining venues and bars onboard.

The company's headquarters were based in Liverpool from 1840 until 1967.

"Everything is built on a foundation and this is our foundation," she said.

"It started in Liverpool. Liverpool is our spiritual home.

"This is where the whole thing started. Everyone is always very excited to come back to Liverpool."

Captain Inger Thorhauge
Captain Inger Thorhauge said Liverpool is Cunard's "spiritual home" [BBC]

The ship's head of housekeeping, Victoria Summers from Bootle, said she was proud to be part of the crew, as her family "have all worked for Cunard line".

"My aunties, my uncles... and I've got a great uncle who was chief steward on the original Queen Mary," she said.

Ms Summers, who first joined the cruise company as a stewardess on the Queen Elizabeth 2 more than 30 years ago, said she was "excited and proud to be on board and actually sailing into Liverpool".

Victoria Summers
Victoria Summers said she was the latest in a long line of family members to work for Cunard [BBC]

Also on board were local couple Sandra and John Boggan from Bebington, Wirral who said they had chosen to go on the tour because they wanted to sail in and out of Liverpool.

"Coming into the Mersey this morning was incredible," Ms Boggan said.

The couple, who have travelled on other Cunard ships including the Queen Victoria, after watching the Three Queens display in 2015, said the Queen Anne was a "beautiful ship", "high spec" and "very special".

(L-R) Susan Smith and Rosie Dunning stood alongside the Queen Anne
Susan Smith and Rosie Dunning say they love to come and see the ships in the city [BBC]

Susan Smith and Rosie Dunning from Liverpool, who had come to the Pier Head especially to see the ship, said they were "taken aback" at how big it was.

"To see this is just everything really," Ms Smith said.

"I've never been on a large ship, only smaller ones. It's amazing."

Liverpool was the birthplace of Cunard with its first transatlantic crossing departing 184 years ago in July 1840, and it was the company’s headquarters for 128 years.

Natalie Haywood, Melanie C, Ngunan Adamu, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jayne Casey
Five Liverpudlians who have "inspired generations" were chosen to take part in the naming ceremony as representatives of the city [Cunard]

Katie McAlister, President of Cunard, said: “Liverpool is the spiritual home of Cunard, and we are therefore delighted and feel it very fitting that the city of Liverpool is the godparent to Queen Anne.

"It’s testament to the enduring relationship that connects Cunard and the city in which it was founded to the present day when we officially named our new ship on the Liverpool waterfront, in front of the Cunard Building.

"We are equally delighted to have our five chosen Liverpool icons represent the city in the ceremony.

"All remarkable in their own right, they have inspired generations and collectively capture the essence of the city that has shaped global culture.”

Andrea Bocelli
Andrea Bocelli sang his hit Time To Say Goodbye [PA Media]

Andrew Lewis, chief executive of Liverpool City Council said it was "an incredible honour" for the city.

"We will always cherish our long-standing relationship with Cunard,” he said.

Celebrations continue with a funk and soul set from BBC Radio 6 Music's Craig Charles, before the ship departs to a backdrop of fireworks at about 22:15 BST.

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