Billy Ocean meets Prince Lines

Back in 1984, Billy Ocean had a big hit with his song “Caribbean Queen.” It was a versatile song in global terms, as Ocean recorded versions that charted in other markets: “African Queen” and “European Queen” didn’t require much extra reworking to benefit from internationalization and localization.

I got to thinking about “Caribbean Queen” while I was preparing an xml version of the Prince Lines advertisement that appeared on the front page of most issues of the Egyptian Gazette in 1905.

Prince Lines

The ad lists 48 ships owned by the company by name and weight. Each name is a prince of a certain region, nation, type, or character. Billy Ocean might be gratified to see that there is a massive Carib Prince (8,000 tons) and a somewhat slighter African Prince (3,050 tons). No European Prince, but lots of Princes from various parts of Europe:

Prince Lines locations

I was struck by the coverage of names. The geography of colonial shipping interests dictated part but not all of this range–though the heaviest ships seemed to follow the empire’s shipping lanes. British whimsy seemed to supply other names–Highlands Prince, Soldier Prince, Merchant Prince, and so on. And of course there’s an Ocean Prince: Billy honored before his time.

Will Hanley
Will Hanley
Associate Professor of History

I study the legal history of the Middle East and teach at Florida State University.