|The Royal Princess christening ceremony // All photos by Susan J. Young|
In her last official public appearance before the birth of her baby next month, Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge (better known to Americans as Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife), cut the ribbon releasing a champagne bottle that crashed into the new Royal Princess. Thus, she officially christened the ship in Southampton, U.K., early Thursday, June 13, 2013.
The Duchess was a fitting godmother for the ship, given that her husband’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had herself christened the line’s first Royal Princess in 1984. Princess has a history of naming godmothers of renown including Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Dame Margaret Thatcher and Olivia de Havilland.
Stunningly glowing, the Duchess wore a shimmery dress of silver with black dots, as Captain Tony Draper escorted her to the stand for the ribbon cutting. En route, she accepted the ribbon-cutting scissors from two children, Isobel and Charles Rowbotham, whose family benefitted from the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, one of the charities for which the Duchess is a royal patron.
As the bottle slammed into the ship’s side and broke, blue and white confetti cascaded down on the pier, the ribboncutting platform and the audience. The Duchess held a bouquet of flowers received from Amy Templeton, deck officer, Princess Cruises.
The Duchess broke into a broad smile, before standing with other dignitaries including Princess Cruises’ President and CEO Alan Buckelew and Carnival Corporation Vice Chairman Howard Frank, as the audience sang “God Save the Queen.”
Earlier in the ceremony, The Pipe Band of 1st Battalion Irish Guards played bagpipes and paraded in front of the pavilion and dignitaries seated on the dais. The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth also played rousing march music just prior to the arrival of the Duchess of Cambridge.
After the Duchess was seated on the dais, “Unwritten” was performed by Grammy-nominated recording artist Natasha Bedingfield. The Mass Ensemble – performing on a unique Earth Harp – and Broadway and West End theater stay Kerry Ellis also performed.
Buckelew briefly talked prior to the christening, noting how proud and excited the line was to be welcoming a new prototype ship. He also told honored guests that Princess’ history extends back to the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, founded in 1837. The Right Reverand Tim Dakin, the bishop of Winchester, also blessed the ship.
The Royal Princess becomes the 17th Princess vessel sailing the globe. It’s a long way from the 1970s when the line was catapulted to stardom in the television show, “The Love Boat.” Today, Princess is the third largest cruise line in the world.