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I spent 5 nights on Cunard's luxury Queen Elizabeth cruise ship. Here are all the hidden references to royalty I discovered on board.

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mikhaila
Mikhaila in the Queens Room. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
  • I spent five nights on Cunard's Western Europe voyage in October.

  • It took place on the Queen Elizabeth ship, which has strong links to British royals.

  • From the bathroom hand soap to the Cunard logo, I spotted many references to royalty on board.

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

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth ship in Amsterdam
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 mini-fridge, 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 logo can be spotted all over the ship, from restaurant menus to deck chairs.

cunard deck chairs
Deck chairs with the Cunard logo. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

After seeing the logo on the pillows, I couldn't help but notice it everywhere I turned.

It was on a pair of complimentary slippers and bathrobe left for me in my stateroom, and also featured on menus, deck chairs, and the ship's stationery.

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.

The Hildon bottle of water I ordered from room service also has a Royal Warrant.

hildon water
The water also has the Queen's stamp of approval. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Hildon water was also served in the ship's restaurant and bar areas.

Even the Godiva chocolate placed on my bed every night had a connection to royalty.

cruise brochures
Godiva chocolate was left on my bed alongside brochures for the black-and-white themed Gala Night. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Godiva chocolate has a special connection to the Belgian royals. In 1968, it was given a Royal Warrant, making it the official chocolatier to the Royal Court of Belgium, according to its 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.

croquet
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.

The Queens Room had a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

cunard queen elizabeth portrait
A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

There were other royal paintings scattered across the ship, including one of Balmoral Castle (the Queen's residence in Scotland), and one of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

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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