Glorious World of British Royals

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Queen Elizabeth spearheads fab 1000-strong flotilla over Thames

Queen Elizabeth, 86, arrived on Sunday, June 03 ‘12 for her Diamond Jubilee river pageant to a rousing reception, wearing a glorious silver and white dress and matching coat, designed by Angela Kelly. The colors in her dress beautifully contrasted and stood out against the red, gold and purple hues of the royal barge.

 Queen Elizabeth arrives at royal barge
down the River Thames. Credit: Getty
Today’s pageant is understood to be the largest of its kind in 350 years. Tens of thousands of joyous crowds lined up along the banks of the River Thames to get a vintage view of the water-borne extravaganza featuring a flotilla of 1,000 ships, steam boats and tugs, speed boats and historic vessels in the first pageant of this massive scale on London's river since 1662.

Queen Elizabeth led the spectacular 1000-stong flotilla in a glided royal barge, against the backdrop of London Philharmonic Orchestra playing 'Singing in the Rain' as the royals traveled down the River Thames. First to have arrived even ahead of the Queen, was Prince Charles and wife Camila at Chelsea Pier. The Prince happens to be the patron of the pageant, and in fact the idea for a water-borne tribute to the Queen was actually his.

Prince William and Duchess Kate
along with Prince Harry arrive ahead
of the Queen Elizabeth for the Jubilee
pageant. Credit: Sky News
While Prince Charles wore his Royal Navy Admiral's ceremonial day dress uniform, his wife the Duchess of Cromwell was wearing an Anna Valentine coat and dress with a hat designed by Philip Teacy. Charles and Camila were also joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Prince William and Duchess Catherine and Prince Harry.

Group of Chelsea Pensioners in their prim scarlet uniforms presented a Guard of Honor to the royal couples at the Chelsea Pier. Thankfully, the rains did not play spoil-sport as had been predicted. Spectators were thus given some respite from the rain that threatened to dampen spirits earlier.  Heading the magnificent flotilla was Catherine of Braganza in 1662, a floating belfry with a set of eight church bells specially cast for the celebrations.

Each bell named after a senior royal family member. Accompanying the Queen and other royals on the seven mile journey was every conceivable vessel on the Thames from kayaks, skiffs, Dunkirk “little ships” and Chinese dragon boats to tugs, barges, rowed shallops and passenger vessels. As the flotilla passed by bells pealing loudly from churches across the riverbank could be heard.

On board The Spirit of Chartwell, a converted sightseeing boat alongside Queen Elizabeth II and 90-year-old husband Prince Philip were other members of the royal family including heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and Camila, Prince William and wife Kate Middleton. The main vessel looked like one indeed ‘fit for a queen' adorned with nearly 10,000 flowers donated for use at the event by owner Philip Morrell. It had been luxuriously decorated with replica carvings and sported a majestic red, gold and purple color scheme.

It also contained an ornate, gilded prow sculpture featuring Old Father Thames, a pair of scaly, sharp-toothed classical dolphins - a symbol of the Thames - and the royal cipher in the middle. A lavish, red, velvet banner decorated with a version of the royal coat-of-arms made from more than half a million gold-colored buttons hung from the stern.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were seen seated on the vessel's top deck in ornate chairs under a gold-colored canopy. The 64 metre-long cruiser has a top speed of 11 knots, having rich red drapes decorating its sides and its bow displaying the Queen's cipher, EIIR, below a crown with golden floral displays around it. The luxurious interiors were so designed to evoke the grandeur of the 1929 Cote d'Azur Pullman railway carriages, complete with artifacts from the original train and great ocean liners.

The vessel Havengore, carrying Sir Winston Churchill's coffin in 1965,  was used in the pageant by the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince & Princess Michael of Kent.

Onboard the Trinity House No 1 Boat, were the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. While the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra could be seen aboard the RNLB Diamond Jubilee.

The spectacular flotilla meanwhile is traveling under 14 bridges and past 14 miles of bunting. The flotilla is expected to take four hours to cover the 11 kms to Tower Bridge, where the Queen will disembark. Around 190 boats are sailing alongside the pageant to take care of security and respond to any emergencies. Also on standby are around 5,500 police and 7,000 volunteers.

Source: The Daily Mail/

The Queen arrives in white for Diamond Jubilee Pageant

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