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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 17:00 GMT
Queen launches QM2
QM2 and firework display
A firework display followed the ship's official launch
The Queen has officially launched the Queen Mary 2, the largest cruise liner built.

The Queen blessed the vessel and then released the bottle of Champagne which smashed on the side of the ship.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen went on a tour of the 150,000-tonne liner in advance of the naming ceremony.

Divers earlier examined the keel as part of a massive security operation surrounding the event.

Twice the size of her predecessor the QE2
She has six restaurants, five swimming pools, a theatre and a cinema
She is as high as a 23-storey building

It is the first time the Queen has named a Cunard ship since the launch in 1967 of the QE2, whose Southampton to New York service will be taken over by the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2 in April.

Opera singer Lesley Garrett sang Amazing Grace while pop singer Heather Small performed her song, Proud.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt read prayers of blessing.

Following the naming ceremony, a Son et Lumiere was performed with music by John Williams.

There was then a fireworks display and the playing of Beethoven's No 9 choral symphony Ode to Joy.

Passengers will probably clock up several miles a day as they explore the ship

The public were not allowed on to the dock area during the ceremony.

Instead, a giant screen broadcasting a live relay of events was set up in the waterfront Mayflower Park.

It is planned to give the Queen Mary 2 a huge send-off from the docks, accompanied by fireworks, when she embarks on her maiden voyage on Monday.

The liner's launch has been tainted by the tragedy at the ship's construction site in St Nazaire, France, where a gangway collapsed killing 15 people last November.



The BBC's Robert Hall
"Seventy years on, a famous name is re-born"

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