HMS Queen was laid down at Devonport Dockyard on 12 March 1901. Lady Charles Scott (wife of Admiral Lord Charles Scott), Lady Ernestine Edgcumbe, Mrs. Jackson (wife of Rear-Admiral T. S. Jackson), and Mrs. Champness (wife of Chief Constructor of Devonport Dockyard H. B. Champness) took part in the ceremony
She was launched and named by Queen Alexandra on 8 March 1902, in the presence of King Edward VII. It was the first major public event attended by the couple since the end of the mourning period after his accession the previous year. She was completed in March 1904.
The Formidables were similar in appearance to and had the same armament as the Majestic and Canopus classes that preceded them. The Formidables are often described as improved Majestics, but in design they really were enlarged Canopuses; while the Canopus class took advantage of the greater strength of the Krupp armour employed in their construction to allow the ships to remain the same size as the Majestics with increased tonnage devoted higher speed and less to armour without sacrificing protection, in the Formidables Krupp armour was used to improve protection without reducing the size of the ships. The Formidables thus were larger than the two preceding classes, and enjoyed both greater protection than the Majestics and the higher speed of the Canopus class. The Formidables' armour scheme was similar to that of the Canopuses, although, unlike in the Canopuses, the armour belt ran all the way to the stern; it was 215 feet (66 m) long, 15 feet (4.6 m) deep and 9 inches (230 mm) thick, tapering at the stem to 3 inches (76 mm) thick and 12 feet (3.7 m) deep and at the stern to 1.5 inches (38 mm) thick and 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. The main battery turrets had Krupp armour, 10 inches (250 mm) on their sides and 8 inches (200 mm) on their backs.
The Formidables improved on the main and secondary armament of previous classes, being upgunned from 35-calibre to 40-calibre long 12-inch (300 mm) guns and from 40-calibre to 45-calibre long 6-inch (150 mm) guns. The 12-inch (300 mm) guns could be loaded at any bearing and elevation, and beneath the turrets the ships had a split hoist with a working chamber beneath the guns that reduced the chance of a cordite fire spreading from the turret to the shell and powder handling rooms and to the magazines.
The Formidables had an improved hull form that made them handier at high speeds than the Majestics. They also had inward-turning propellers, which allowed reduced fuel consumption and slightly higher speeds than in previous classes but at the expense of less manoeuvrability at low speeds.