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Duchess of Cambridge names cruise ship Royal Princess in Southampton this morning
Updated 2:23pm Thursday 13th June 2013 in News
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- Royal Princess has been named by Duchess of Cambridge
- The Duchess named the vessel at Ocean Terminal in Dock Gate 4 in Southampton
- Host of celebrities were on board for gala dinner last night
- Natasha Bedingfield performed during the ceremony
A picture from today's naming ceremony.
Another picture from the naming ceremony of Royal Princess.
The concert at the naming ceremony.
Alan Buckelew, CEO of Princess Cruises.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh.
A video of the Duchess of Cambridge as she launches the champagne at the naming ceremony of Royal Princess.
The arrival of the Duchess of Cambridge with CEO of Princess Cruises, Alan Buckelow, right.
The Duchess of Cambridge at the ceremony.
The Duchess of Cambridge sounds the ship's whistle from the bridge.
The Duchess of Cambridge meets Port director Doug Morrison and his wife Margaret.
Southampton's mayor Cllr Ivan White watches the ceremony.
The Duchess has signed a photograph of herself which will now take pride of place on the ship during her voyages across the seven seas.
The director of the Port of Southampton, Doug Morrison, also met Kate during her tour of Royal Princess.
He said: "She was absolutely wonderful. She has a wonderful way about her which makes people be immediately relaxed.
"It was like talking to an old friend. She asked how busy the port here was and she seemed to know Southampton well.
"She said she had been in Southampton Water a few times but it was the first time she been on a cruise ship."
Hampshire's chief constable Andy Marsh, and his wife Nikki, were two of the people who managed to chat with the Duchess.
He said: "She was absolsutely lovely and looked very elegant. She spent a lot of time talking to people and seemed really interested in the area.
"I was telling her about all the events taking place. Talking about the Isle of Wight [festival] this weekend, Cowes Week - but she seemed to know about that - and if she wants she’s welcometo Bestival anytme."
The Duchess is now beginning to chat to the dignitaries.
You can hear a pin drop in the reception. Kate is asking whether people stayed onboard last night and she is asking whether they were comfortable. One comment in response: ''you will make a wonderful mum.'
This image shows the Bishop of Winchester Tim Dakin blessing the Royal Princess.
The room is filled with local dignataries and representatives from various charities who the Duchess will meet.
People are all turned out in their finest outfits. I've just caught sight of some delicious canapés on offer. I wonder if the duchess will give them the royal seal of approval?
Tim Stringer, staff captain, was among the officers who met the Duchess.
He said: "She said she had never been on a cruise ship before, and she seemed to be genuinely interested in the ship. I was really impressed, she spoke to everyone and was very relaxed and chatty."
A picture of Natasha Bedingfield performing at the ceremony.
And another photo of the moment the Duchess released the champagne to name the ship.
A photo of the Irish Guards Band performing on the dockside during the ceremony.
Kate has just giggled and said 'brilliant i was expecting something high-pitched' and threw her hands in the air as she pressed the ship’s horn.
The Royal Princess boasts a specially made horn that plays the first notes of the theme song from the TV show The Love Boat - luckily it was just the standard horn she pressed!
She is now making her way out to a reception onboard.
She's asking the officers' wives about the entertainment and whether any trips are planned. She's asking about their favourite places. A lady has answered Alaska, which is probably slightly warmer than Southampton feels at the moment.
Kate is introduced to crew members on the bridge of Royal Princess.
"The Duchess, as always beaming at everyone she meets, asked whether the officers got to enjoy such luxuries onboard the ship. She giggled at the response. She's completely captivating. This must be the first time the bridge is so silent," says Tara.
Mass Ensemble perform Into the Flow at the ceremony. Picture from Princess Cruises.
Tara reports: "We're up in the bridge waiting for Kate now. The ships officers and other dignitaries are lined up."
Picture of the Duchess of Cambridge after smashing the bottle of champagne. Picture from Princess Cruises.
The Duchess is heading up to the bridge of the ship which is now the largest in Princess Cruises’ 16-strong fleet.
Will she brave her away across the ship’s impressive “seawalk” a purpose-built glass-bottomed promenade which sweeps out in a dramatic curve over the side of the ship 128ft above the sea?
Maybe the royal bump would have something to say about that.
The Duchess paused to look at the opulent surroundings. Each step of the breathtaking staircase is made from marble and lit from within and surrounded by gold banisters.
It’s extraordinarily opulent and the centre piece of the staircase cascades down from above, a mix of glass and gold.
It's like something from a Bond film.
Tara is with Kate as she is introduced to the crew.
She says: "We’ve followed the Duchess into the ship’s soaring atrium, the social heart of Royal Princess and how can she not be impressed. The two sculptural spiral staircases forged from glass at the far end are simply stunning."
Inside the ship, crewmembers line the atrium as the Duchess is shown around.
This is the moment the Duchess launched the champagne towards Royal Princess, officialing naming the 141,000 ton vessel.
We’re now on board the Royal Princess.
The ship, which was built in Montefalcone in Italy and sailed into her home port Southampton last week, is regal in every way- luxury doesn’t even describe it.
The Duchess has just left the stage to go on to the ship to tunes played by the Royal Marines and a rapturous round of applause.
She has now returned to her seat and the crowd is upstanding for a rendition of the national anthem.
The Duchess is about to leave the naming arena along the dockside and take a tour of the vessel.
The Duchess is now naming the ship and has just released the bottle of champagne and sent it crashing into the side of the ship.
The Duchess is in position at the quayside adorned with colourful blooms of cream roses and blue and purple toned flowers.
it's just seconds until she says the famous words: “I name this ship...” in the centuries-old ceremony before she sends the magnum of Moet and Chandon champagne dressed with blue and white ribbon crashing against the vessel’s massive hull.
Let’s hope it breaks Kate!
The Duchess will be entrusted with the safe guidance of the Royal Princess and its passengers.
The Bishop of Winchester Tim Dakin, below, is now blessing the ship.
A mysterious loud bang comes from the ship but the duchess does not look bothered and continues to enjoy the music,
The media crews poised for pictures
It's windy here and Kate, who looks relaxed and happy, is smoothing her long hair. More on her Hobbs High Street coat. It's a black and white checked print with a tailored look.
Natasha Bedingfield is now singing her 2004 hit, Unwritten.
The announcer says that while we know the ship's future will be full of amazing voyages, the rest is 'Unwritten', seguing into the song.
Pop star Natasha Bedingfield's first album Unwritten in 2004 sold 2.3 million copies worldwide is in a luminous yellow pencil skirt, as you can see.
There's a ripple of applause as the Duchess walks to take her seat and the national anthem is played as she takes her place.
As ever she looks radiant, her smile is dazzling and she is the epitome of elegance. The Duchess has today opted for a High Street outfit wearing a printed Hobbs coat covering the royal bump.
Her hair is swept back off her face and curled. She's wearing a stunning black hat and an animal print outfit.
The Duchess of Cambridge has arrived at Ocean Terminal in a Range Rover, and we're afforded our first glimpse of her, there is a deafening silence amongst the crowd in anticipation.
The band is marching up and down the quayside, along the blue carpet that has been laid out especially for the ceremony.
The Pipers of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards have kicked off the naming ceremony.
And here is an image of Captain Draper's work:
This is Royal Princess being guided in to berth 40 alongside Ocean Terminal in Southampton, stern first last Friday.
This is the man in charge of Royal Princess:
Captain Draper is charged with guiding the vessel on the brief two night voyage this evening and the maiden voyage on Sunday.
HAMPSHIRE's chief constable Andy Marsh has just arrived dockside in his uniform.
Crew making the finishing touches to the exact spot where the Duchess will cut the rope to release the champagne.
The weather is not exactly helping the last minute preperations, according to Melanie:
"It's a tad windy down here on the dockside so there are men furiously stapling the floor cover of the stage to ensure it stays in place."
It’s a proud day for Southampton and excitement here is mounting. Temporary grandstands have been built to accommodate the hundreds of official guests invited by Princess Cruises who are now pouring through.
As well as celebrity guests, there are also people here today from charities and organisations the Duchess supports including East Anglia's Children Hospices where Kate made her first ever public speech last March.
The invited guests are starting to disembark the ship and take their seats on the quayside, ready for the naming ceremony.
And this is where they'll be sitting, directly opposite the podium where the champagne will (hopefully) be smashed against the gleaming hull of the ship.
Meanwhile, the bottle of champagne has been carefully lifted into position, as you can see if this photo from Melanie Adams:
Tara Russell is with the royal press pack, and will be following the Duchess around as she is given a tour of the ship.
She says: "With just one hour to go until the Duchess' arrival, The question on everyone’s lips in the Royal Rota press room is what will the Duchess wear? Will she opt for an off-the peg outfit or customised designer ensemble?
"Kate is famously a champion of the British High Street and her favourites include Zara, Topshop and LK Bennett. But she mixes her High Street finds with haute couture outfits which has earned her style plaudits from around the world. She has also worn customised designer pieces by pricier labels including Emilia Wickstead, Jenny Packham and Tara Jarmon.
"Just last week Kate stepped out in a £17.50 navy knee-length sale dress from High Street brand ASOS.com- proving it’s how you wear it not what it costs."
Since then, the Queen, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Princess of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall have all christened spectacular vessels.
Kate will join a long list of royal ladies who have helped launch these lavish liners. The tradition dates back to Queen Mary, wife of King George V, who launched the Queen Mary in 1934, becoming the first-ever British monarch to launch a merchant ship.
While we may be less than a hour away from the naming ceremony, staff from Princess Cruises and Southampton Docks are still working away to make sure everything is ready and ship-shape - no pun intended.
And this is where Kate will be smashing the champagne against the hull of the ship.
After a bit of a scrum, reporter Melanie Adams is in position. This is her view of the ship from the quayside.
It’s as much as a poignant occasion for the Duchess here in Southampton today as it is for Princess Cruises.
On a cold November day here in the city docks in 1984 the late Diana, Princess of Wales, undertook the same duties as Kate by officially naming an earlier vessel also called Royal Princess. The new ship’s name was taken from the original Royal Princess which launched in 1984 and is no longer in service.
Here is a video from the ship's arrival in Southampton at the end of last week.
After today's ceremony, she will leave on a brief two night cruise before her maiden voyage proper departs Southampton on Sunday afternoon.
"As we wait in the press pen we can hear the musicians rehearsing in the background, putting the finishing touches to their performances with just a few hours until the main event," says Melanie as preperations continue for the ceremony as the press corps waits for things to get underway.
Tara reports: "In just a few hours Kate will become “Godmother” to the 1,082 ft super ship Royal Princess in a spectacular christening ceremony- and the ship certainly lives up to its regal name.
"We've only seen the outside so far but she dwarved our taxi as we pulled up. The Union Flag was resplendent despite the dull weather."
When visiting a cruise ship at Southampton docks, visitors are required to hand over their passports, even if the vessel is not going anywhere.
Melanie and Tara have just done so and are now about to head through the security cordon and on to the ship.
It's all part of the high security put around the giants that sail in and out of the port each day - and that's before you factor in the visit of one of the most famous women in the world.
Today will be the Duchess of Cambridge’s last solo public engagement before she takes maternity leave ahead of the birth of her first child next month.
Looks like the weather gods are on our side this morning as the rain subsides and it starts to look a bit brighter ahead of the royal arrival.
Tara Russell reports: "Dozens of journalists from the world’s newspapers, TV and radio stations are queuing in Ocean Terminal as preparations are underway for what is undoubtedly going to be a memorable day."
Last night, there was a gala dinner onboard the ship, which a host of celebrities coming down to the city to try out the ship's hospitality.
Pictured above are Christopher Biggins and Des O'Connor.
You can see more of the famous faces in our earlier story.
The Daily Echo's Tara Russell and Melanie Adams are down at Ocean Terminal.
Tara said: "We were welcomed at the terminal by a guard of honour made up of Navy cadets."
And this is a video of the 141,000 giant reversing into her berth alongside Ocean Terminal. The clip was recorded by by Matt Pearce from Etch, which has offices on Town Quay.
This is an image of Royal Princess taken as she arrived in Southampton last Friday.
The Duchess will be alongside the 141,000 ton vessel at the city's Ocean Terminal, acting in her role as the ship's godmother.
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge will arrive in Southampton this morning to name the new Princess Cruises vessel, Royal Princess, in a dockside ceremony in Southampton.
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