Queen Elizabeth II yesterday bade farewell to the liner that bears her name, the QE2, before she sails off for a new life as a floating hotel in Dubai.

On the 55th anniversary of her coronation, the queen toured the 70,000-tonne ship in Southampton on her last visit to the liner she launched on the Clyde in Scotland in 1967.

Carol Marlow, managing director of the ship’s owners Cunard, said in a speech to the queen and 300 guests including former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher: “The QE2 has been a symbol of all that is best about Britain. It is the most famous ship afloat but all things move on and the vessel will now be going to Dubai where it will be admired by generations to come.”

The QE2 has been superseded by bigger, more luxurious liners such as Queen Mary 2, which was also moored in Southampton docks on Monday. The ship will make its final journey in November to Dubai to be re-fitted as a luxury floating hotel anchored off Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest man-made island.

The Queen also unveiled a painting of the QE2 passing through Southampton waters created by Isle of Wight artist Robert Lloyd. The painting will be presented to the people of Southampton in November when the ship leaves for the last time.