Wedding on Queen Elizabeth 2
By Captain R W Warwick
By law, captains of British registered ships are not permitted to carry out marriages on shipboard but in this case Captain R W Warwick, Master of QE2, was acting as civilian under the laws of the USA. Notwithstanding, this is probably the first legal marriage in living memory carried out by a Cunard Master on board any of the company’s ships.
Captain Warwick’s daughter Rebecca, and her fiancée Chris, had been due to get married aboard the QE2 in the port of New York on 4 October by the Venerable Canon Robert Willing, Archdeacon Emeritus of New York. Unfortunately, since the events of 11 September 2001 the liner has had to divert to Boston on its transatlantic crossings and Archdeacon Willing is not licensed to perform weddings in the state of Massachusetts.
When the ship was diverted to Boston all the wedding plans had to be re-arranged. At first it seemed as though the ship’s heightened security status was going to be the biggest stumbling block in that visitors and a Justice of the Peace would not be permitted to board. However, when Captain Warwick downloaded the rules of matrimony for Massachusetts from the internet he discovered that he maybe able to get special permission from the Governor of the State to perform the ceremony himself. When he contacted the Governor office he was told that the application would be considered but it would take six to eight weeks to process! After explaining who he was and the reason for the request at short notice, the Governor’s aid asked him to fax the application to her office and the necessary permission was received by return.
The ceremony was carried out in the Yacht Club on the QE2. Captain Warwick wrote the order of service with reference to the published works of the International Sailors Society.
The couple were especially keen to get married on the liner as it has always played a large part in Warwick family life. Rebecca’s late grandfather Commodore William E Warwick (Younger Brother of Trinity House 1957-98) was the QE2's first Master when it was launched in 1969. Commenting on the event, Rebecca said, "It was a very special moment for me, not only being married by my father in such unique circumstances, but also on a ship which is very special to my family."