Camilla reveals Spirit of Discovery during naming ceremony in Dover
The Duchess of Cornwall could not hide her longing for a cruise on a luxury liner as she officially named a new ship.
When Camilla was given a painting of the Spirit of Discovery – the Saga Group’s new vessel – to mark her visit on board, she said it would remind her to book a berth.
Earlier, when the duchess toured the vessel and met musician Jools Holland, who has co-designed a restaurant and bar on the liner, she joked about how a bottle of Champagne would not break the last time she tried to name a ship.
Camilla said to Holland: “The last one I launched was the Queen Victoria, when I pressed the button nothing happened, I pressed it several times and eventually a hand came over and smashed it on the side.”
At the time, the duchess and the Prince of Wales watched as the bottle bounced off the hull of Cunard’s Queen Victoria liner in 2007, during a ceremony staged in Southampton.
But in Dover, with hundreds of guests and dignitaries sat on the dockside, the event to name the new Saga vessel was flawless, with the bottle of Balfour sparkling wine exploding with a bang against the hull.
In a speech to mark the naming of the vessel, the 71-year-old duchess, who is patron of Silver Line a helpline for older people and a charitable partner of the Saga Group, said: “Saga, of course, works predominantly with the over-50s – an age group which, to me, looks increasingly youthful these days.”
Speaking about Silver Line, she added: “You will perhaps indulge a proud patron for taking a moment to praise the work of this wonderful organisation, which provides a 24-hour telephone service for older people who are feeling lonely or isolated.
“Since its launch in 2013, it has received over two million calls – and the support of Saga will help ensure that its vital work can continue. ”
After pressing a button that released a mechanical arm holding the bottle of sparkling wine, the air was filled with confetti and foaming alcohol.
Dancer Wayne Sleep, a guest at the ceremony, joked: “She was so determined to launch it and really pushed the button.
“I thought a bomb had gone off when the bottle hit the hull, they had put extra oomph in it, I nearly jumped out of my skin.”
During her tour of the ship the duchess was taken on to the bridge and marvelled at the view of the English Channel as she chatted to captain Julian Burgess.
When she unveiled a plaque to mark her visit and was presented with a painting of the liner she said: “I should be able to remind myself to book my berth.”
Dame Esther Rantzen, Silver Line’s founder, said about the duchess’ patronage of her organisation: “It’s a recognition of the work we do and the value of the work we do.
“And she’s been to see us in action, she’s been to see the helpline, and meet the volunteers and staff and she’s actually talked to some of our callers.
“When she decides to support a charity she likes really to understand the value of the work they do, and she’s helped us with our fundraising to.”