If you had to buy an 80th birthday gift for the Queen Mary, what might you pick out for the celebrated landmark?
Something in tartan, given its Scottish background? Something from the 1930s, since the famous ocean liner had its royal launch in 1934? Or perhaps a memento from 1967, when the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, its new forever-and-always home?
Any gift-giver would face a bouquet of possible choices. But the lovely thing about honoring the 80th anniversary of the ship's first voyage, which is up in May, is this: No gift is required, on behalf of the public. After all, when you're one of the world's grandest and most recognizable vessels, you've got it all going on already, history-wise and stature-wise and design-wise, too.
What to do, where to go and what to see
The Queen Mary's 80th Maiden Voyage Public Day is scheduled for Friday, May 27, which comes a day after a gala Anniversary Party in the Queen's Salon. You can stroll its woodsy decks, learn about its important role in World War II, and discover how two years passed between its completion in 1934 and its official 1936 launch.
There was, in that time span, a lot of tweaking, re-working, and "fitting out," as you might expect with a ship of her prominence, size, and nobility.
To honor the liner's World War II role as "The Grey Ghost," and as Winston Churchill's office-at-sea, the prime minister's great-grandson Randolph Churchill will visit the ship for the anniversary events, and to help dedicate a new gallery space on the ship where paintings by the prime minister himself will be displayed.
Lord Alan Watson, an expert on the prime minister's work and life, will also be in attendance.
These are paintings done by Mr. Churchill, not of him, to be clear, so they carry an extra connection to the ship that once served as his home and office for weeks at a time. (If you're wondering if the prime minister turned to making art as a way of dealing with the many stresses of his complex calling, you'd be correct.)
Ready to celebrate Sir Winston's artistic and WWII legacy and the era of great ocean liners aboard the Long Beach attraction? Stop by the grand, smokestack'd structure on the Thursday or Friday ahead of Memorial Day Weekend (a weekend that also has much meaning for the many American servicemen who sailed aboard the ship during the war.)
Tickets and info can be found at the Queen Mary's online HQ. Also? As is tradition, the ship offers free admission over Memorial Day Weekend for veterans and active military personnel.
For more information on all of the Queen Mary's Maiden Voyage events, sail your own ship into this dock.