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Kate to follow in Queen and Diana's footsteps as she names cruise liner

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Kate Middleton is to follow in royal tradition on Thursday when she travels to Southampton to name Princess Cruises' latest liner Royal Princess. The Duchess of Cambridge will take part in a ceremony to officially christen the Royal Princess and will follow in the footsteps of leading ladies the Queen and Diana, Princess of Wales, who have all become godmothers to these stunning cruises. The late Princess of Wales named the original Royal Princess in 1984. The expectant mother will christen the 3,600-passenger vessel as her final solo engagement before she takes maternity leave ahead of her mid-July birth.

The engagement will be a special moment for the Duchess, who will soon begin a break in her public life, as it will echo the very first royal engagement she undertook with Prince William. In February 2011, just two months before their lavish wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey, Kate and William took part in a RNLI Lifeboat naming ceremony at Trearddur Bay, near William's Anglesey base. Kate, who will become godmother to the Royal Princess, will join a long list of royal ladies who have helped launch these marvellous liners. The tradition dates back to Queen Mary, wife of King George V, who launched the Queen Mary in 1934 becoming the first-ever British monarch to launch a merchant ship. Since then, the Queen, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Princess of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall have all christened spectacular vessels.

The Queen attended her first naming ceremony in 1938, when she accompanied her mother, the then Queen Elizabeth to launch the Queen Elizabeth, before launching the Caronia, the green goddess by herself in 1947. Since then the 86-year-monarch has christened several liners including the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1967 and the Queen Mary 2 in 2004. Excitement is already building in Southampton ahead of pregnant Kate's first visit and Alan Buckelew, president of Princess Cruises has expressed his delight at the royal's visit. “It is a great honour for Princess Cruises that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has accepted our invitation to become the godmother to Royal Princess," he said. "We are delighted that the Duchess will launch our new ship and can think of no better way to celebrate our company's British heritage and our commitment to the country.

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