ROYAL PRINCESS Christened — Live From The Scene!

Peter Knego reports from Southampton on the day of Princess Cruises’ brand new ROYAL PRINCESS christening by HRH The Duchess Of Cambridge.

Princess Cruises

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2013 unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

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The official invite.

Climate trumps even the most skillfully planned event and this morning, I arose to a note in my cabin mailbox advising that if Southampton’s weather remained inclement, our media group would experience the naming ceremony via electronic proxy in the ROYAL PRINCESS’ Princess Live venue.

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International Cafe, facing port.
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International Breakfast: yogurt parfait, double shot cappuccino and egg with cheese muffin sandwich.

I was off to the International Cafe for a dash of caffeine and a quick morning bite — an International (versus Continental) breakfast, if you will.

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Princess portraits.

On the way back to my stateroom, I perused some truly remarkable sketches of the soon-to-be-ROYAL PRINCESS’ Godmother, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, rendered by residents of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), which the Duchess supports through her charity work.

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Press conference in Princess Live with Princess executives and ROYAL PRINCESS Captain Tony Draper.

At a morning press conference in Princess Live, we were advised to bundle up — the naming ceremony would take place al fresco, after all.

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The broadcast media pool preps.

We filed into the terminal and were offered champagne, bucks fizzes and soft drinks before proceeding en masse to custom-built bleachers off the ship’s bow. Directly below us, television media huddled in a sea of microphones and camcorders.

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Royal angles.

High above, officers peered through the angled windows of the ROYAL PRINCESS’ wheelhouse as her signal flags fluttered in the gusty winds.

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Sea witch atop Moet and Chandon?

A huge Nebuchadnezzar-size bottle of Moët & Chandon dangled off the ship’s bow, its corsage of blue and white ribbons billowing not entirely unlike the iconic Princess “sea witch” logo.

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Pipe Band of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

As we settled in, the Pipers of the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards piped their way between the bleachers and a podium filled with VIPs, including Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew, Captain Tony Draper, Lady Sterling (of P&O) and others.

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The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth.

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth were the next to rhythmically stampede the dockside.

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Royal in the plumage.

And then, beyond a sea of festive hats and fascinators, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge arrived. LED screens projected her exiting a black SUV, looking resplendent in a snow leopard-patterned overcoat.

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Front Row, left to right: The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, Mrs. Buckelew, Alan Buckelew (Princess Cruises CEO) and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.

The pretty-in-pregnant Godmother was led to the stage and seated.

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Natasha Bedingfield performs “Unwritten”.
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Applause with a Royal touch.

Blond locks billowing, British pop singer Natasha Beddingfield took the stage and performed the title track of her 2004 Grammy-nominated album, “Unwritten”.

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Kerry Ellis performs.

Next up was Kerry Ellis, the West End singing sensation, backed by Mass Ensemble, a troupe of kinetic musicians who perform with oversized instruments like the Earth Harp whose strings stretched well into the sky above our bleachers.

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Captain Tony Draper leads the Duchess to the ribbon.

Alan Buckelew made a short welcome speech and then the ship was blessed by the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, just before Captain Tony Draper led the Duchess to the end of the podium.

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Confetti on the flanks.
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A ship is born.

“I name this ship ROYAL PRINCESS. May God bless her and all who sail in her.” Within a nano-second, the ceremonial ribbon was severed, releasing the bottle, which splattered successfully into the ROYAL PRINCESS’ bow. Mission accomplished! The ship’s whistle blew and we were drenched in a downpour of blue and white confetti.

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Bough to bow.
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Royal exit.

As the ribbon-festooned neck of the bottle dangled near its impact point, the Duchess was led off, vanishing back into a sea of onlookers. The ROYAL PRINCESS was now officially named.

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By the bollard.
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MV ROYAL PRINCESS at Southampton.

Before returning to the ship, I wandered out to the end of the terminal for a few hurried photos of the ROYAL PRINCESS in her element.

Very special thanks: Julie Benson, Karen Candy, Martin Cox

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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