Alden told a story this evening that is in the category of "too good to check," a category that journalists don't want to admit exists. But it does. I'll check this sometime, but not tonight.
We went to a party tonight at a bar on Magazine Street called Alexander's, a farewell party for a dear friend we've known for over twenty years. Though a native Orleanian, Kelley is moving back to her ancestral homeland of Ireland this week and decided to throw a bash, complete with traditional jazz band. (She literally grew up at Preservation Hall.) When we walked in, the drummer and bandleader Barry Martyn, another old friend, was remarking on how she was not flying to Ireland, but sailing. This prompted Alden to take the mic and tell this story.
During the 30s and 40s Alden's father, being a moderately successful New York corporate real estate broker, served on a number of corporate boards. Mostly you were there to accept the luxurious lunch and the c-note in an envelope, and rubber-stamp what the company wanted to do. One board he was on was of the Cunard line, which has built and run the most extraordinary Atlantic liners that ever were. (Alas, they are now owned by Carnival.) So he was told this story.
In the 30s, Cunard was planning the largest and most luxurious liner that anyone had ever seen. They had a tradition of naming their ships with names ending in "ia," like Titania or Brittania. They had planned to name this glorious new ship the Victoria, but thought it would be prudent and good form to ask the permission of the current monarch, Victoria's grandson King George V. So they sent a delegation to the Palace, describing the project and asking permission to name the new ship after "England's greatest queen."
George V promptly replied, saying that permission was of course granted, and that his wife would be honored and delighted.
So the Queen Mary it was.