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What's in a name?

The facts about the QE2's various names. 

Verified by Cunard's official historian and QE2 expert, Mr. Michael Gallagher, Cunard Line.


II or 2 ?

Its always a 2, never a II.  This is because she's named after the first Cunard Queen Elizabeth, not Her Majesty.  The ship's name caused controversy at the time of her launch because in Scotland, where she was built, the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth, was the first one to reign in Scotland so it was seen as insulting to the country who built her to call her Queen Elizabeth II.

QE2 or "The QE2"

From before she entered service, until after she ended service, this was the way the ship was almost always referred to.  It was an acronym that entered the English language in common use in various ways - for example - "this car takes longer to stop than the QE2".

SS Queen Elizabeth 2

From 1968 until 1986, this was QE2's official designation.  SS Stands for 'Steam Ship'.  It was almost never used, however, except in official paperwork.

MV or MS Queen Elizabeth 2

From 1987 until the date when she finally is no longer a registered ship, this was her designation.  It was almost never used, however, except in official paperwork.

RMS (Royal Mail Ship) ?

Surprisingly, QE2 is not an RMS, and never was.

QE2's predecessors were Royal Mail Ships.  Speed was of the essence, and these ships rushed the mail to New York or Southampton in 4 or 5 days.  However even before they retired, this had become irrelevant.  Air travel took over. 

QE2 was designed to be radical departure from 'the old', and one of the ways they tried to ensure this, was to make a deliberate decision to drop the RMS from her name.  Documents from senior Cunard management at the time testify to this. 

Things came full circle in 2004, when Cunard deliberately took the decision to call the new Queen Mary 2, an RMS.  This was precisely to make her seem more old-fashioned, and, of course, to draw on the glamour of the old ships and public consciousness of the RMS Titanic.

From Michael Gallagher

"I read a memo at the University of Liverpool (where the Cunard archive is found) from Cunard Deputy Chairman Lord Mancroft to Chairman Sir Basil Smallpeice asking him if the New Cunarder would be designated an 'RMS'. Sir Basil responded saying he thought she should not be as that was not in keeping with the new modern image of the ship and that she wouldn't be spending all her time on the Atlantic."

 


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