All aboard! Queen invites Middletons on her royal river party to celebrate Diamond Jubilee
Flotilla of more than 1,000 boats will take to the Thames on June 3They will go seven miles from Tower Bridge to Battersea – as an estimated BILLION people watch worldwidePrince Charles has arranged for ex-valet Michael Fawcett to be on the boat
12:48 GMT, 21 May 2012
The Middleton family have been invited by the Queen to join the royal party at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Michael and Carole will sail on the Elizabethan, a replica 1890s Mississippi paddle steamer, at the event on June 3, the Daily Mail can reveal.
Although the duchess and husband William will be accompanying the Queen on a gilded barge, it is expected that the Middletons’ other children, Pippa and James, will join them on the Elizabethan.
On the guest list: Pippa Middleton, her brother, mother and father have been invited to join the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on June 3
The fact that they are being included in the Royal Squadron – a handful of boats sailing behind the Queen – is a further sign of her cordial relations with Kate’s family. Shortly before last year’s royal wedding she invited Mr and Mrs Middleton, who run a company selling children’s party goods, to dine with her privately at Windsor Castle and subsequently included them in her carriage procession at Royal Ascot.
Sources say the Queen appreciates how close her new granddaughter-in-law is to her family and feels their relationship continues to give her enormous stability.
Prince Charles has also arranged for his former valet Michael Fawcett, who now works as his party planner, and his wife Debbie to be on the boat alongside the Middletons to ensure their day runs smoothly.
Thames: Kate's family will be on the Elizabethan, a replica of a Mississippi paddle steamer
As Charles’s manservant, Mr Fawcett was even rumoured to squeeze the prince’s toothpaste on his brush for him. It is said Charles once declared: ‘I can do without anyone except Michael.’
Following the ‘cash for gifts’ scandal in 2003, during which it emerged that Charles had been selling off presents given to him during his official duties, often through his valet, Mr Fawcett was forced to quit.
Within weeks, however, he was back at Clarence House working as a freelance events organiser and is still paid tens of thousands of pounds for his services every year.
Other VIP guests on the vessel include Lord Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic organising committee, and his wife, Lady Carole.
Organiser: Prince Charles has arranged for Michael Fawcett, his former valet, who now works as a party planner to be on the boat alongside the Middletons to ensure their day runs smoothly
‘Michael and Carole’s inclusion on Elizabethan has only just emerged and has taken a lot of people by surprise, but the Queen is incredibly supportive of the duchess and her family,’ said a palace source.
‘Boats travelling in the Royal Squadron are solely reserved for special guests of the Queen, which demonstrates just how far the Middletons have come.’
One of the largest charter boats in London, the Elizabethan is a recreation of a 19th-century stern-wheeled paddle steamer but with the interior of a modern restaurant and night club. The 235-seater vessel also has an upper-deck walkway which offers the largest outside area of any Thames riverboat and will provide its occupants with an unrivalled view of events on the day.
The normal cost of a charter for the privately owned boat is 650 an hour.
The 10.5million pageant on Sunday June 3 will see a flotilla of 1,000 boats and more than 20,000 participants take to the water in the largest celebration to be staged on the Thames for more than 300 years.
Stretching more than seven miles, the cavalcade – which includes a remarkable floating belfry and several orchestras and choirs, will make its way down the Thames from Battersea to Tower Bridge, with an estimated worldwide audience of a billion.
Every senior member of the Royal Family will be taking part, led by the Queen and Prince Philip who, accompanied by Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, William and Kate and Prince Harry, will take centre stage on the lavishly decorated royal barge bedecked with flowers.
Privileged: The Middletons' paddle boat will join the Royal barge, above, which will carry the Queen and Prince Philip, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and other senior royals in the Jubilee pageant
Route: The vessel will join the rest of the flotilla for the pageant route, which will see the royals board their barge at Chelsea Pier collecting William, Kate and Harry en route to the O2
On the Royal barge: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to join the Queen and the other senior royals on the Spirit of Chartwell for the Jubilee pageant
Royal adornments: The Spirit of Chartwell will be lavishly decorated in gold, with the royal cipher forming part of an ornate gilded sculpture on the vessel's prow
Historic: This gilded rendering of Old Father Thames himself will take pride of place
Lavish: A red velvet banner decorated with a version of the royal coat-of-arms made from more than half a million gold-coloured buttons will hang from the stern
Labour of love: It has taken artist Ann Carrington and her team of talented seamstresses four months to sew on half a million golden buttons with 31 miles of thread