Platinum jubilee: Dubai's 'QE2' to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's reign

Former luxury liner - now a floating hotel at Port Rashid - was launched by British monarch in 1967

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A host of events are being prepared to celebrate the platinum jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on board the Dubai-based ship that shares her name.

Gala dinners, variety shows, pub quizzes, afternoon tea and tours of the Queen Elizabeth 2 will pay tribute to the queen for being on the throne for 70 years.

Staycation deals are also available for those who want to spend the night aboard the former luxury liner that was transformed into a museum and hotel at Port Rashid in 2018.

The celebrations are scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4, to coincide with events happening in the UK.

“It’s an opportunity for people here to celebrate the incredible achievement of the queen in reigning for 70 years,” said Robert Duce, chief executive of Outside the Box, which is running the celebrations.

“Regardless of your politics, you have to say this is an incredible feat. Her reign goes all the way back to the likes of [Dwight] Eisenhower and [Winston] Churchill, prime ministers and presidents have come and gone in that time but she remains constant.

“It’s something that British people can be very proud of and it’s only right we celebrate it.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Dr. John Rannie attend the launching of the Queen Elizabeth 2. (Photo by Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

The QE2 is a vessel that some call the greatest ship the world has ever seen. It was built in the famed shipyards of John Brown in Clydebank, Scotland, and launched in 1967 by the queen. Her maiden voyage took place in 1969.

It would go on to become the Cunard Line’s flagship for more than 30 years and was succeeded by the Queen Mary 2 in 2004.

When the QE2 was purchased by Dubai World in 1997, it had completed more than 800 Atlantic crossings and had carried 2.5 million passengers. French hospitality company Accor is now taking over the running of the QE2, with plans to increase the number of rooms from 224 to 447.

Mr Duce said he expected more than 1,000 people to attend the gala dinners over the course of the weekend.

Entertainment will be provided by the Royal Marines Corps of Drums, a piper and a military band flown over from the UK for the weekend. Tickets for the dinner are Dh595 a person.

A variety performance is also scheduled to take place on both nights, while jugglers, a Shirley Bassey tribute act and a local ballet school will also be performing.

Prices for the variety performance range between Dh125 and Dh175.

Afternoon tea, that most British of traditions, will also be available onboard throughout the week.

The ship's Golden Lion pub will also be hosting many events, including a pub quiz on Wednesday, June 1. Although it opened on the QE2 only in 1994 in what had been the old theatre bar, Mr Duce claimed it could be considered one of the emirate's oldest bars.

“There’s going to be a minimum spend of Dh96 per person at the quiz in The Golden Lion,” said Mr Duce.

“That is because the queen is 96 years old, so we thought it was quite appropriate.”

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26:  The QE2 ship arrives in Dubai from the UK on November 26, 2008.  (Randi Sokoloff / The National)   The Airbus A380 flys overhead. *** Local Caption ***  RS012-1126-QE2.jpgRS012-1126-QE2.jpg

Another event taking place onboard the ship will be the Big Jubilee Family Lunch, Mr Duce said.

“All over the UK, people are being encouraged to have street parties on June 5 to mark the occasion,” he said.

“We decided to do the same in the UAE for all the family and there will be children’s entertainment, too.

“The main difference is we won’t be able to put huge amounts of food in the middle of each table because of Covid-19 restrictions.”

Updated: May 23, 2022, 3:12 PM