Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the most prestigious honour on the shipping company of Shaw Savill and Albion when she chose the SS Gothic to visit parts of the Commonwealth soon after her Coronation in 1953.
This is recounted by Randolph Magri-Overend in the February 2014 issue of FM102 Fine Music Magazine, which is published monthly by the Sydney fine music channel.
Older Australians – and I am one of them – will recall with pleasure Gothic's magnificent entry into various Australian port s during that memorable first tour.
Mr Magri-Overend signed on to Gothic, ten years later, as the ship's purser.
He recalls that the ship had been part of the Royal Tour in 1952 when the then Princess Elizabeth was forced to interrupt a tour of South Africa due to the sudden death of her father, King George VI.
He points out that for the 1954 tour the ship's hull was painted white. All modern accoutrements were added, the ship is completely air-conditioned, public rooms were expanded the special upper saluting bridge was installed.
The Queen, Prince Philip and the royal entourage joined the ship in Kingston, Jamaica on 22 November 1953 and then proceeded through the Panama Canal to Suva, Fiji, Tonga and then to Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and other ports before arriving at Fremantle.
Crossing the Indian Ocean they called in on the Cocus Island, Columbo and the Red Sea port of Aden where they disembarked and flew to Tobruk to join the Royal Yacht Britannia for the last leg of the tour.
Meanwhile Gothic made its way to Malta and then Birkenhead where all the saluting bridge was removed.
Sadly, in August 1968, barely 5 days out of New Zealand, the Gothic's bridge caught fire and three crew members and four passengers lost their lives.
In May 1969, Gothic made her final trip to Taiwan where she was sold for scrap.