Better than the Olympics! Boris's pledge on Diamond Jubilee River Thames spectacularWhat Queen's flotilla will look like when 1,000 boats take to the Thames
It will be, we are confidently promised, the greatest show the Thames has ever seen and perhaps even outshine the Olympics.
The Diamond Jubilee river pageant will feature 1,000 boats, 20,000 eager participants and millions of cheering spectators.
Details of the spectacular event on June 3 were released yesterday, prompting London Mayor Boris Johnson to predict a ‘glorious’ spectacle which would ‘perhaps be more exciting than the Olympics themselves’.
Pageant Master Adrian Evans spoke of ‘a once-in-a-lifetime event, one that will reclaim the Thames as a royal route’.
He added: ‘I’m hoping it will be majestic, joyous, uplifting and patriotic – a fitting celebration for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.’
The procession from Wandsworth to Tower Bridge will be divided into ten sections interspersed with ‘music herald’ barges.
Each vessel will travel at approximately four knots – a fast walking speed – meaning the fleet will complete the seven-mile route in around 90 minutes.
At its head will be a remarkable floating tower featuring eight specially-cast bells, each named after a senior member of the Royal Family. Their peals will be answered by chimes from riverbank churches along the route.
The first boat will be Gloriana, the hand-built 88ft Royal Rowbarge, followed by a fleet of paddled vessels including watermen’s cutters, skiffs, American whaleboats and dragon boats.
Thames Jubilee pageant
The second section includes craft carrying the flags of Commonwealth nations, realms and territories. Next will be the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in their magnificent gilded royal barge.
This is being adapted from an existing Thames cruiser, the Spirit of Chartwell, and will be garlanded with flowers from the royal estates.
Prince Charles, whose idea it was to hold a river-borne celebration in the first place, is to take a significant role as patron of the pageant.
At the end of the route there will also be a spectacular mile-long ‘Avenue of Sail’ for the Queen to inspect, consisting of boats too big to go under Tower Bridge.
Organising the event has been a ‘logistical nightmare’ but its organisers are confident it will be a success, watched by millions worldwide.
The 10million cost is being funded entirely by sponsorship – although advertising is strictly forbidden – and private donations.
The organising committee is attempting to persuade the Government to waive VAT on the event, which would add another 2million to the bill.
Apparently the Queen was particularly insistent that no public money should be used, nor does she want any full-scale public appeal for funds.
Gloriana, a treasure to last 100 years
Britannia she is not. Nor does she look anything like our spectacular national flagship which the Daily Mail is proposing for the United Kingdom.
But Gloriana will be the boat which will lead the Queen and her entourage through London in June.
With less than a month until she marks 60 years on the throne, the Queen has just granted official royal status to the first floating object since the last Royal Yacht was pensioned off to become an Edinburgh tourist attraction.
While she is not equipped for touring the Commonwealth – or even for venturing much beyond the Thames Estuary – Gloriana’s credentials are impeccable. For the 18-oared craft is now, officially, the Queen’s Royal Rowbarge.
Spectacular: An artist's impression reveals the flotilla reflecting Britain's maritime heritage that has been assembled to celebrate the Queen's 60-year reign
Original plans saw the Queen travel down the Thames upon Gloriana, the Royal Rowbarge, but security and health and safety issues proved too complex. Instead, the Queen, Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family will take part in the pageant aboard a modern Thames cruiser called Spirit of Chartwell, which is being converted into a barge for the day
Left, an artist's impression of Spirit of the
Royal Cruiser Chartwell, which will be converted into a barge for the
day to carry the Queen and Prince Philip down the Thames on June 3;
right, The De Walvisch Culture Ship will be part of the stunning display
The 88ft cross between a giant gondola
and a Viking longboat is a precise recreation of the oar-powered
limousines which ferried royalty and the very rich around London from
medieval times. Except that their boats did not boast flushing loos,
hot-and-cold running water, cunningly-disguised liferafts and two
standby electric engines.
I have been allowed inside the secret workshop on a West London industrial estate where the ten-ton Gloriana is taking shape.
With a capacity of more than 50
passengers and crew, a royal rowbarge must have been a dazzling sight –
as we can see from the works of the 18th-century artist Canaletto. Now,
we will see it all over again in June as Gloriana leads a thousand boats
for seven miles through London.
The crew will consist of some of the
most ancient and exotic appendages to the Royal Household. The Queen’s
Bargemaster will be at the helm while 18 of her Royal Watermen – all of
them professional Thames boatmen – will do the heaving.
The boat has been designed to carry
members of the Royal Family, VIPs and charities on the Thames – and
other inland waters – for the next 100 years. Come the day of the
pageant, though, the Queen will not be on board herself.
Because of the need to give her
optimum visibility, she will be seated on the upper deck of a converted
sightseeing boat, the Spirit of Chartwell.
Fanfare: Tower Bridge will open to allow the flotilla to pass, cheered on by the throngs gathered to watch from the banks of the Thames
Gloriana will be just in front,
carrying the Queen’s trumpeters and eminent guests. Once the pageant is
over, the Spirit of Chartwell will go back to running day trips for
Gloriana, however, will remain in all her royal glory for
generations, serving as a floating centrepiece for royal occasions,
civic events, education and even the occasional trip to Britain’s other
great port cities.
‘It is so important that the Jubilee leaves a legacy,
and here will be a permanent example of the historic link between
power, pageantry and the Thames,’ says Lord Sterling of Plaistow, the
man behind the Royal Rowbarge.
A central figure in the organisation
of the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees, the former P&O executive
chairman had the idea for Gloriana four years ago after a call from the
Prince of Wales’s office.
Soundtrack: The flotilla will be divided into 10 sections with music herald barges separating each group, playing music composed especially for the event, including church bells, herald fanfare trumpeters and an orchestra from the Academy of Ancient Music
The 1,000-boat tribute will feature vessels from down the centuries on the River Thames, a seven-mile long procession of Dunkirk little ships, historic vessels, steam boats and tugs, rowed shallops and Dutch barges and passenger ships
Charles had been contemplating a Jubilee river
journey for the Queen from central London to Hampton Court Palace. ‘He
asked me to come up with a few thoughts on an appropriate boat and
that’s when I had this idea,’ says Lord Sterling.
As with the national flagship, so
Gloriana has been built with private money and will be run by a charity.
Lord Sterling has met much of the 500,000 cost, along with a handful
of other philanthropists.
The plan is to hand her over to the Queen in
the next couple of months, whereupon she will be placed in the care of
the Maritime Heritage Trust.
Heroic past: Motor Torpedo Boat 102, which took part in the Dunkirk evacuations in the Second World War, will lead the flotilla
Joining in: The Tenacious, designed and built to enable people of all physical abilities to sail side-by-side as equals
Nostalgia: BlueBird, a beautiful motor yacht built in 1938 for Malcolm Campbell, will be taking part in the pageant
Both the National Maritime Museum at
Greenwich and the Thames boat-building industry have been thrilled to
have the chance to recreate a vessel not seen at Greenwich since
‘There’s been nothing like this in my lifetime,’ says
Mark Edwards, master boatbuilder on the project.
The next task will be to get the crew
up to scratch.
The Royal Watermen – limited to 24 in number – are all
expert Thames skippers who turn out on state occasions in a scarlet
tunic and stockings for the unprincely sum of 3.50 a year.
possibly fault their loyalty or their patriotism. But they’re not Sir
From massive crafts to one man boats: One of 80 sea kayaks that will join the flotilla; right, A familiar sight on the waters of the Thames, the Duck Tours passenger boat will get recognition for its long service to London's tourists as it joins the parade
The Fire Flash will be one of a long line of fire boats taking part – and is set to fire a powerful jet of water from its hoses to mark the occasion
Historic: HSL 102, a 100-Class High Speed launch, which was used by the RAF to rescue World War 2 airmen from the seas; right, Queen of the Lake, a passenger boat which normally operates on Lake Windermere, will make the pilgrimmage to London for the Jubilee
Man power: Crews will man rowing boats that form part of the spectacular
Majestic: The artist's impression of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee flotilla recalls Canaletto's famous painting, River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral on Lord Mayor's Day, c.1747-48
Mapped out: The route the pageant will take down the Thames
MUSICAL FLOTILLA FOR THE THAMES PAGEANT
The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant will feature a 1,000-strong flotilla divided into 10 sections with music herald barges separating each group. Here is a description of the music featured on the 10 barges:
Celebration: The Queen will be marking 60 years on the Throne
1. The Royal Jubilee Bells
Eight church bells, named the Royal Jubilee Bells, will be housed in a floating bell tower, believed to be a first for the River Thames. As an eight-strong team from the Ancient Society of College Youths, led by Dickon Love, ring a quarter peal, it will be answered by peals from churches along the route.
The bells have been cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and will later be installed at the Church of St James Garlickhythe, in the City of London. They will have the Royal Arms cast on them and each will be individually named after a senior member of the Royal Family with the great bell, half a ton in weight, christened Elizabeth in honour of the Queen.
2. Academy of Ancient Music
An orchestra of 22 musicians from the Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Richard Egarr, will rediscover the original sounds which Handel and his contemporaries would have known when they performed Handel’s Water Music – written to serenade the royal barge of George I – and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
3. Herald Fanfare Trumpeters
Six trumpeters from the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines perform a fanfare to each of the Thames bridges to herald the arrival of the Queen in her Royal Barge.
4. The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines
Popular nautical airs and marine marches played by 35 musicians from the band.
5. The Jubilant Commonwealth Choir
A chorus of singers from across the Commonwealth will perform the world premiere of a song with lyrics by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and music by composer Orlando Gough. The group, which features 120 amateur singers and five soloists, will also sing a cappella arrangements of traditional British folk songs under the direction of Mary King and Mr Gough.
6. Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band and Shree Muktajeevan Dhol Academy
Fifty musicians from the Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band and Dhol Academy will play a mixture of traditional Indian melodies, Scottish tunes and Bollywood anthems on bagpipes and percussion.
7. New Water Music for the Diamond Jubilee
A world premiere of music by 10 renowned UK film composers who have created a new movement using the original titles of Handel’s Water Music for inspiration.
This new suite of music will be performed by an ensemble of 15 musicians. Composers include Anne Dudley, Graham Fitkin, Gavin Greenaway, Christopher Gunning, Adrian Johnston, John Lunn, Julian Nott, Jocelyn Pook, Stephen Warbeck and Debbie Wiseman.
8. The Mayor’s Junior Jubilee Brass Band
A 75-piece brass band will perform the world premiere of A Celebration by Rachel Portman. The group has been created for the pageant by the Mayor of London’s Fund for Young Musicians. The band brings together students aged from 12 to 21 from London’s four music colleges – Guildhall School of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music and Trinity Laban – and the Mayor’s Music Scholars from the boroughs where the institutions are based.
9. To be announced at a later date.
10. London Philharmonic Orchestra
The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Parry will perform a Last Night of the Proms-style repertoire of grand ceremonial works, British pastoral music and patriotic anthems by composers including Thomas Arne, Sir Malcolm Arnold, Benjamin Britten, Eric Coates, Sir Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst and Sir William Walton.