RMS Queen Elizabeth

The RMS Queen Elizabeth
The RMS Queen Elizabeth

The climax of Diamonds are Forever takes place on the cruiseliner RMS Queen Elizabeth. Built as an passenger cruise ship and launched in 1938, the ship was used during World War II as a troop transport before being refitted as an Ocean Liner following the war. This accounts for Bond’s thought:

Bond remembered the days when her course had been different, when she had zig-zagged deep into the South Atlantic as she played her game of hide-and-seek with the U-boat wolfpacks, en route for the flames of Europe.

Some other references in the narrative include:

But, as first Tiffany Case and then James Bond went into the mouth of the gangway, a dockhand from Anatasia’s Longshoremen’s Union had walked quickly to a phone booth in the customs shed.

I liked this reference, never really having considered the ramifications of it before. Anatasia was Albert Anastasia, who was one of the century’s most famous mob bosses. He also for a time had six local union chapters of the International Longshoremen’s Association in Brooklyn under his control. In the 1950’s the Waterfront Commision was set up to combat labor racketeering. It was said that the Gambino crime family, of which Anastasia was then the boss, controlled the New York waterfront.

It was a nice little touch by Fleming to include that detail, suggesting that the mob connections of the by then late (and fictional) Jack Spang had reached to the NY waterfront and that the boys of (real-life) Albert Anastasia were on the case.

The Queen Elizabeth was likely docked at Pier 90 of the Manhattan port, on what was known as Luxury Liner Row.

RMS Queen Elizabeth taking her spot at Pier 90 in Manhattan's Luxury Liner Row.
Manhattan’s Luxury Liner Row.

The scene that morning when Bond and Tiffany get on, might’ve looked similar to this.

QE-manhattan
That guy lounging there…did he tip off the mob?

Once the ship was ready to leave, they needed to navigate out of New York Harbor.

There would be a pause to drop the pilot at the Ambrose Light

Like the South Goodwin Lightship, Ambrose Light was a lightship used in this case, to mark the Ambrose channel. It was replaced in 1967 by a lightstation tower. Ambrose_LightshipAmbrose Lightship“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

After reflection on the wartime activity, Bond continues.

 It was still an adventure, but now the Queen, in her cocoon of protective radio impulses-her radar; her Loran, her echo-sounder-moved with the precautions of an oriental potentate among his bodyguards and outriders, and, so far as Bond was concerned, boredom and indigestion would be the only hazards of the voyage.

Loran is short for “LOng RAnge Navigation” a system developed as a secret project during WWII and contributed greatly to the Allied war efforts. (Video) Stations were quickly established all over the world, making it a robust, world-wide, proven system of ground stations, run by the US Coast Guard, that give vehicles equipped with LORAN receivers a fix – a known position at a certain time, which is critical to navigation.

We get a peek into the radio room, where signals are being composed and sent.

As the iron town loped easily along the broad Atlantic swell and the soft night wind thrummed and moaned in the masthead, the radio aerials were already transmitting the morse of the duty operator to the listening ear of Portishead.

From 1920 until it was shut down in 2000, Portishead was the most famous maritime radio station in the world.

portisheadradio

We’ve already put up a post on the Metal Mike. (see below)

Other facts that we are given – Bond and Tiffany’s cabin were on M (Main) deck. W. Winter and B. Kitteridge had their shared cabin on A deck and they had an outside cabin as they had a window. Cabin number A49. Their cabin was First Class, as were Bond and Tiffany’s as well.

Bond’s cabin was conveniently located directly above the cabin of Mr Winter and Mr Kitteridge.

An eagle-eyed observer might figure out that cabin A49 on the Queen Elizabeth was actually an interior cabin, meaning no window.

cabin-a49

John Griswold notes that the original manuscript of the novel had them in cabin B49 of the Queen Mary and the change in the ships may account for the seeming discrepancy.

James Bond makes a memorable entrance into the room of Wint and Kidd, surprising them by bursting through their open porthole

This porthole was on the sister ship to the Queen Elizabeth, the RMS Queen Mary.
This porthole was on the sister ship to the Queen Elizabeth, the RMS Queen Mary.

Other locations within the ship have been looked at in other posts and are linked here: These include the Observation Lounge, the Veranda(h) Grill and the main smoking room.

Smoking Room, RMS Queen Elizabeth

First Class Smoking Room aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth
First Class Smoking Room aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth

Following their dinner at the Veranda(h) grill James Bond and Tiffany Case head out for a little entertainment.

They got into the lift for the Promenade Deck. “And now what, James?” said Tiffany. “I’d like some more coffee, and a Stinger made with white Crème de Menthe, while we listen to the Auction Pool. I’ve heard so much about it and we might make a fortune.”

“All right,” said Bond. “Anything you say.” He held her arm close to him as they sauntered through the big lounge where Bingo was still being played and through the waiting ballroom where the musicians were trying out a few chords. “But don’t make me buy a number. It’s a pure gamble and five per cent goes to charity. Nearly as bad as Las Vegas odds. But it’s fun if there’s a good auctioneer, and they tell me there’s plenty of money on board this trip.”

The smoking-room was almost empty and they chose a small table away from the platform where the Chief Steward was laying out the auctioneer’s paraphernalia, the box for the numbered slips, the hammer, the carafe of water.

Their path takes them through two other rooms as noted in the passage above. First the big lounge:

RMS-Queen-Elizabeth-Main-Lounge

and then through the ballroom:

QE-ballroom

before arriving in the main first class smoking room.

A look at the deck plan below shows that once again, Fleming got the details right.

QE-promenade

At the far right you can see the lifts, then they would’ve moved to the left in the diagram, going through the main lounge, then the ballroom, and finally into the smoke room, where the auction was being set up.

The auction pool scene, where they sell off numbers based on the Captain’s estimate of how far the ship will travel in the next 24 hours is really a fascinating bit of storytelling.

You have to wonder if Fleming was inspired by his friend Roald Dahl, who, in the January 19th, 1952 edition of The New Yorker, had published the short story  Dip In The Pool. That story also involves an auction pool aboard a cruiseliner and a passenger betting on the “low” field and hoping to maneuver events to win the prize. The New Yorker was apparently a regular read for Fleming. He also got information on The Inspectoscope from the magazine.

The story also became an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, and if you watch it, the room in which that auction is held looks very much like this shot here of the Queen Elizabeth main smoking room.

qe-smoke

Note the square pattern on the wall to the right and you’ll see the same thing in the AHP episode. The story could’ve been set on the RMS Queen Elizabeth.

 

Once again, I want to give credit for the awesome interior photos of the Queen Elizabeth to the rmsqueenelizabeth.com website. Worth a visit!

Veranda(h) Grill, RMS Queen Elizabeth

Verandah Grill, RMS Queen Elizabeth
Verandah Grill, RMS Queen Elizabeth

Earlier in the day, James Bond and Tiffany Case had drinks in the Observation Lounge. That night they have dinner at the Veranda Grill.

It was eleven o’clock and there was only a scattering of people left in the corners of the Veranda Grill.

This had been the fulfillment of a promise made on the first day of the voyage. When Bond suggests that they lay low for a couple of days, Tiffany agrees:

“Well, if you promise to call me up every day,” said Tiffany, “and promise to take me to this Veranda Grill place as soon as I feel I can swallow a little caviar. Okay?”

For once, we are not given details about the meal that they enjoyed that evening. We’ll have to take a look at a menu to see what they might’ve been eating that night.

qe-menu

The Veranda(h) Grill was for First Class passengers. It was a step up from the cabin class, and certainly the tourist class dining options.

RMS-Queen-Elizabeth-F-Rest

A look the other side:

RMS-Queen-Elizabeth-F-Verandah-Grill

verandah-qe

After dinner, they head over to the Smoking Room and listen to the Auction pool.

Observation Lounge, RMS Queen Elizabeth

Three days into the voyage,  James Bond and Tiffany Case make plans to have a drink in the Observation Lounge.

They were thirsty for each other’s company after the three days’ separation, but Tiffany’s defences were up when she joined him at the obscure corner table he had chosen in the gleaming semi-circular cocktail bar in the bows.

Observation Lounge aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth.
Observation Lounge aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth.

I think I can see the corner table.

The Observation lounge was on the Promenade deck, at the very tip of the ship, and after Bond made a remark that upset Tiffany, she left the bar, and was “half way down the Promenade Deck” before Bond could catch up with her.

observation-lounge

The deck was the white space along the outside edges of the boat. Tiffany was out of there pretty fast!

Check out the SSMaritime.com site for more outstanding pics.