The loudest ever version of “Happy Birthday” will sound out across Southampton next week when the world’s most famous liner, Queen Mary 2, celebrates her tenth anniversary in the city.
Everyone in Southampton is invited to watch as a dazzling firework display lights up the night sky over the city to celebrate QM2’s maritime milestone.
A special day of events, marking the tenth anniversary of QM2 becoming the Cunard flagship, will include a Royal visit by the Duke of Edinburgh who will attend a reception and a gala lunch on board the liner on Friday, May 9.
In what promises to be a remarkable occasion the city will witness the arrival of Cunard’s whole three-ship fleet, QM2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, in Southampton together.
This will be a rare occasion to see all Cunard’s ships together, and Southampton will be the only place in the world to have hosted the three Queens, three times.
The ships will arrive together at first light to begin a day of celebration, with an early morning “Birthday Salute” as sister ships Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria will take the lead up Southampton Water, followed by a fire-tug spouting waterjets, heralding the arrival of birthday girl, QM2.
As Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria come bow-to-bow, just 30 metres apart, by the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal in the Eastern Docks, at about 5.30am, QM2 will slowly sail past her sister ships.
As a tenth anniversary salute a special rendition of “Happy Birthday” will be blasted out from the ships’ mighty whistles, as 10,000 balloons are released from QM2’s top deck.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s visit will be the first time he has been back on board the liner since he accompanied the Queen when she officially named the liner in the city back in 2004.
During the day QM2 will host a special reception and lunch for invited guests attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, who will tour the liner and meet members of her crew.
A sparkling fireworks display, beginning at 10pm, will cascade over QM2 as she positions herself off the other two ships alongside the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal.
At the completion of the display, QM2 will set off down Southampton Water followed by the other two Cunard ships.
Since entering service QM2 has undertaken a total of 419 voyages including more than 200 transatlantic crossings, called at 182 ports in 60 countries and carried in excess of 1.3 million passengers.
Although QM2 was named in Southampton by the Queen in January 2004, it was not until May that the liner officially took over the role as Cunard’s flagship.