Hidden References to Royalty on Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship

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I spent five nights on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise ship in October.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth ship in Amsterdam.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The British cruise line returned to sailing with a Western Europe voyage in October, its first voyage to leave the UK since the pandemic.

As a journalist who covers the British royals, I was intrigued that the ship is named after Queen Elizabeth. 

The Queen Elizabeth, launched in 2010, is the third Cunard ship to take the name, according to its website. The original RMS Queen Elizabeth was in service from 1939 until 1968, and the Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched in 1969 and retired in 2008. 

Queen Elizabeth II was at all three naming ceremonies, the website states.

Cunard is known for its connection to royalty.

Queen Elizabeth II is seen at the Chichester Theatre while visiting West Sussex on November 30, 2017 in Chichester, United Kingdom.

Queen Elizabeth II.

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The cruise line has been linked to royalty since 1934 when it named a ship after Queen Mary, according to its website.

The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and Princess Diana all visited Cunard ships over the years. Elizabeth II made history by traveling on the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1990, marking the first time a reigning monarch had sailed on a passenger ship operating a commercial voyage, according to Cunard.

My $856 inside stateroom had several references to royalty.

mikhaila room cruise

My room.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

My room had a king-sized bed, a TV, a tea and coffee station, a

, a desk, and two sets of drawers. It also had several hidden references to royalty, including in the Cunard logo.


The pillows had the Cunard logo on them, which features a a lion rampant, a crown, and laurel leaves.

mikhaila cruise room

A selfie in my stateroom.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The lion rampant was chosen “because of its association with the Royal Standards of English and Scottish Monarchs,” Cunard historian and the cruise line’s former PR manager, Michael Gallagher, previously told Insider. 

The Royal Standard is a traditional banner with the royal coat of arms, usually flown in the presence of royalty, according to the royal family website.

Gallagher said the lion rampant was also considered to be the king of beasts, “which fitted with Cunard’s Atlantic supremacy.” 

The Quercus hand soap, body lotion, and shampoo that were in my bathroom had the royal stamp of approval.

cunard cruise hand soap

Quercus hand soap.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Quercus manufacturer Penhaligon’s has a Royal Warrant, something which is provided to companies that provide goods or services to the Queen, the late Duke of Edinburgh, or Prince Charles, according to the official Royal Warrant website.

I got to enjoy one of the royal family’s favorite pastimes, afternoon tea.

mikhaila cruise buffet selfie

Afternoon tea at the Lido Buffet.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The Lido buffet restaurant offered afternoon tea every day between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. during my voyage.

Afternoon tea was introduced to the UK in the 1840s as a private social event for ladies before dinner, according to Afternoontea.co.uk.

It was popularized by Queen Victoria, who was a “PR machine for it,” Prince Charles’ former butler Grant Harrold once told me. 

“And as we know, when a royal starts something, it becomes the fashion,” Harrold said.


Afternoon tea usually consists of finger sandwiches, scones, pastries, and cakes — all of which were served at the buffet.

afternoon tea on cruise

Afternoon tea.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Due to Cunard’s COVID restrictions, guests were served by a staff member rather than serving themselves at the buffet.

I noticed people playing croquet, one of the Queen’s beloved sports.


People playing croquet.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Croquet is a sport that involves hitting wooden or plastic balls with a mallet through hoops.

Photos of the Queen and the late Prince Philip playing croquet together when they first met in 1939 were released by the Ministry of Defence earlier this year, The Mirror reports.

The then-Princess Elizabeth would have been 13 years old at the time, while Philip would have been 18.

There were some more obvious references to the royals, such as The Queens room.

mikhaila queens room

Mikhaila in The Queens Room.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The Queens Room is the largest ballroom at sea and “the social hub of the ship,” according to Cunard’s website.

When I was on the ship, the room was used to host social activities during the day, such as dance classes, and in the evening, guests were treated to live music and ballroom dancing.

I noticed this cabinet in one of the hallways, which showed some of the cruise line’s royal history.

cunard's royal cabinet

The royal cabinet.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The cabinet displayed black and white photos and newspaper clippings from royal visits to Cunard. 

It also displayed Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation book and King George VI’s coronation medals.

The cabinet displayed this photo of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, showing Cunard’s long connections to the British royals.

windsors photo cunard

A photo of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The photo was dated December 28, 1949. 

The caption read: “The Duke and Duchess of Windsor arriving yesterday aboard the liner Queen Elizabeth. They will stay in New York for a month and then go on to the Duke’s ranch in Alberta, Canada.”

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