Thousand boats expected for Thames River pageant in London, June 2012
The largest flotilla of boats ever seen on the River Thames in London is being invited to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, on Sunday 3 June 2012.
Organisers announced yesterday that the 1,000 boat, 7.5 mile long flotilla will follow Her Majesty in a specially converted Thames Sailing Barge starting from just outside the Classic Boat offices below Putney Bridge and running downriver to Canary Wharf just below Tower Bridge.
The river pageant will be one of the major celebrations to mark the The Queen’s 60-year reign. Invitations are going out to organisations throughout the realm and the wider commonwealth asking watermen and boaters to submit their boats to attend this prestigious procession.
The event, taking place in the month before the London Olympics, is part of a special four-day bank holiday weekend, and is expected to draw crowds of more than 1 million people, who will watch from the River Banks. Roads and bridges will be closed to maximize public pedestrian access.
Organisers are looking for as wide a range of watercraft as possible, especially those that represent an area historically, such as heritage fishing craft or working boats. Craft will have to be able to pass under Westminster Bridge (at close to HW two days before MHWS) and be capable of making a speed of four knots, for two hours – but this will not preclude kayaks or rowing boats, organizers said. Boat owners can register their interest in taking part, on the website from now (see below).
The newly appointed Pageant Master, Adrian Evans, festival director of the Mayor’s River Festival said:
“We are interested in vessels that are quirky or unusual and especially those which by design or heritage represent an area or country. Once we receive the applications we will decide which can take part based on whether they are fit for purpose, their type and their geographical area of origin.”
The River Pageant takes some of its ideas from a similar event on the accession of Charles II in 1662. It will be led by a floating belfry of pealing church bells and will contain special ‘herald’, or music and pyrotechnics barges as well as a waterborne flame-spitting dragon. Boats and bankside buildings will be encouraged to dress overall and fly as much red white and blue as possible. The Queen’s Barge, a converted TSB – the identity of which is being kept secret pending negotiations, will be de-rigged and converted with a stateroom aft, gold leaf decorations and Royal crested figurehead forward, much as in our image, to resemble a floating state barge of the 17th century.
Chief organiser Lord Salisbury said the event’s cost would run “into many millions” (a figure of £8m was mentioned) but would be paid for by private donations.
“We are planning the greatest Thames flotilla for 350 years to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. I believe that we should recognise her 60 years of selfless public service with an event that can properly express our admiration and gratitude. The pageant is just that,” Lord Salisbury said.
Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant (London) on Sunday, 3rd June 2012
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