Prior to the 1950s when significant advances in air travel were made from technology gained during World War II, ocean liners were the only way to “cross the pond”. When members of the Royal Family traveled, they of course chose British-built ships and Queen Mary was invariably their favorite. The Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth II’s mother) was not shy in stating that Queen Mary was her favorite and, likewise, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (the former King Edward who gave up the throne for “the woman I love” Wallis Simpson) held the same sentiment as well as governmental royalty such as Sir Winston Churchill who crossed aboard her exclusively in both times of war and peace. While Cunard White Star advertised Queen Mary‘s younger running mate Queen Elizabeth as the line’s flagship, passengers both royal and common flocked to Queen Mary. She simply had (and still has) an intangible essence of a living thing or soul. Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor, the Kennedys, and other elite passengers made her their liner of choice. But being a British liner, the officers and crew took great delight in treating the Royal Family to perks not offered to commoners, regardless of their rank and circumstance in politics, entertainment, or wealth. Above is a photo of a life preserver displayed only when members of the Royal Family boarded. There are 3 known in existence and I have 1. The other photo is a cup, saucer, and cake plate decorated in gold used exclusively by the Royal Family. While other passengers took their afternoon tea and crumpets in the famous Foley pattern reserved for First Class, the Royals were served in these ornate pieces. I am fortunate to possess a set as not many sets were made owing to the relatively small numbers of royalty making them rare collectibles indeed.
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