WHEN Queen Elizabeth II launched her namesake in 1967 she was reinforcing her connection with the Clyde.
In the fourth part of our celebration of the Diamond Jubilee Russell Leadbetter looks at the ships and those with Glasgow connections
STARTING even before her long reign, the Queen has launched no fewer than 21 ships – and many of the most famous ones from Clydebank.
She came to know the John Brown yard well.
It was there on October 30, 1947, that she launched the Cunard White Star liner Caronia, which would become known as the 'Green Goddess' after its distinctive livery.
Some 30,000 spectators and shipyard workers cheered the young Princess in the pouring rain.
She was only 21 but this was already her third high-profile visit to the yard – she had been there when her mother launched the Queen Elizabeth in 1938, and she launched the battleship, HMS Vanguard, in November 1944.
At the time, the Evening Times' sister paper, the then Glasgow Herald noted: "She joined her grandmother, Queen Mary, and her mother in launching a giant liner for Cunard White Star, each ceremony being performed in the same shipyard at almost the same spot, a period of a little over 13 years covering the visits of three generations of the Royal Family."
On April 16, 1953, as Scotland and the rest of Britain was dressing itself in bunting in readiness for the Coronation, the new Queen returned to John Brown's to launch Britannia, the royal yacht that would quickly win a special place in her heart.
The Britannia served the Queen and her family well: in the 44 years after it was commissioned, it would take them on no fewer than 968 official voyages across the world, travelling more than a million nautical miles and calling at more than 600 ports in 135 countries.
In 1955 the Queen visited Govan, and the Fairfields shipyard, to launch another ship: this time, in front of a cheering crowd of 12,000 people, it was the 26,000-ton Empress of Britain, a gleaming white liner for the Canadian Pacific line.
In September 1967 came the most famous ship launch of them all – the QE2.
That day has lived on in Clydebank history.
The QE2 – described by Ian Johnston, author of, Ships for A Nation, as the yard's last triumph – spent more than three decades as Cunard's flagship, travelling more than 5.6m nautical miles and carrying more than 2.5m guests.
It completed 25 world cruises and made the Atlantic crossing on no fewer than 803 occasions.
IN May 1990, the Queen launched a frigate, HMS Lancaster, at Yarrow's Scotstoun yard – her first Clyde-built ship launch since the QE2.
In the December of 1992 she launched a ship at Ferguson's yard in Port Glasgow, and in October 1993 it was the turn of a chemical tanker at the Kvaerner yard at Govan.
Because of a speechwriter's error, the Queen said it had been 28 years since she was last at the Govan yard, to launch the Empress of Britain, in 1955. It was, in fact, 38 years.
"Officials with faces as red as the Queen's hat and coat," observed one newspaper report, "harumphed and wondered aloud who wrote the speech."