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Diamond Jubilee: River Thames pageant to honour Queen

Category: England

Published: 3rd Jun 2012 07:39:06

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend will reach its peak later on Sunday with a colourful River Thames pageant.

Hundreds of thousands of people will line the banks of the river to watch the Queen cruise past on a royal barge escorted by a 1,000-strong flotilla.

The event to mark 60 years of her reign promises to be the most spectacular nautical event in London for 350 years.

Millions more Britons are expected to take part in Jubilee parties, outdoor concerts and fairs across the country.

On a waterway which has played a pivotal role in the history of Britain since the days of the Romans, a noisy, theatrical extravaganza is planned and promised.

Along the Thames - London's liquid asset, according to one of the organisers - a procession of varied vessels will pass by. There will be rowing boats, steam boats, Dutch barges and Dunkirk little ships.

In their midst, will be 20 royals afloat. The Queen's luxury barge will be decorated with almost 1,000 cut flowers.

On the banks of the seven-mile route - which will pass under 13 bridges - will be some anti-monarchists wanting to protest.

But most will want to participate in a spectacle the like of which London has not seen since the reign of Charles II.

The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and other senior royals will travel from Albert Bridge to Tower Bridge aboard a lavishly adapted royal barge - the Spirit of Chartwell - decorated with almost 10,000 cut flowers.

As the pageant begins at 11:30 BST with mustering at Hammersmith and Battersea bridges, the Thames barrier will be lowered to slow the river's flow.

The spectacle, along a seven-mile stretch, will end some six hours later when the last boat passes Tower Bridge.

Adam Kerr, the skipper of a restored 19th Century Cornish fishing lugger, the Barnabas, sailed 400 nautical miles to take part.

"It's going to be wonderful, I think it's going to be a pretty colourful spectacle," he told the BBC.

"I'm sure they're very worried about the security of boats crashing into each other, I think we'll be okay - we're a pretty well controlled boat, good crew and nice engine to drive us along."

Campers explain why they chose to stay out overnight in the rain

The £10m cost of the event has been met by private donations but the security costs will be paid for by the taxpayer.

The anti-monarchy group, Republic, has said it will hold a demonstration against what they call an unelected, unaccountable monarch.

BBC weather forecaster John Hammond said pageant watchers should wrap up with waterproofs and wind proofs amid temperatures of around 11C.

He said party-goers in most of England and Wales should expect cloud and the threat of rain, whilst Scotland and Northern Ireland would be dry with some sunshine.

11:30 BST: Vessels begin mustering at Hammersmith and Battersea bridges

1410 BST: Queen arrives at Cadogan Pier

14:30 BST - Queen boards Royal Barge. Steam train, Princess Elizabeth, whistles a salute from Chelsea Bridge

14:40 BST: Jubilee Bells mark official start of Pageant

15:00 BST: Royal Barge joins flotilla, church bells ring out

16:15 BST: Queen disembarks at Royal Naval Reserve Unit HMS President to watch flotilla pass by

17:30 BST: Last vessel, Symphony, passes Tower Bridge. Pageant ends and boats disperse

Rainy weather was not enough to deter hundreds of people who camped out overnight along the Thames to claim the best spots to view the flotilla.

A collection of small ships used to rescue stranded troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 will also take part in the river event.

It will be led by the Motor Torpedo boat 102, the flagship of the officer who co-ordinated the evacuation on the scene.

A boat carrying eight specially cast Jubilee bells will lead the water-borne procession, and churches along the river bank will return the peel as it passes.

Thousands of people will watch the flotilla from Battersea Park, at a festival celebrating the music, food, fashion and art from the past 60 years which sold out several weeks ago.

BBC Big Screens will be transmitting live BBC coverage of the pageant in 22 locations around the UK including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol , Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Middlesbrough.

Around the country, a community initiative called the Big Jubilee Lunch will encourage people to share food with neighbours and friends in street parties or at picnics.

In central London, Piccadilly is being closed for the first time in its history to allow 500 tables to be set up.

Almost 9,500 road closure applications have been submitted across England and Wales, with Hertfordshire topping the street party list with 451 even licences requested. A street party in Morecambe, Lancashire, will be aiming to enter the record books for the longest street party by beating the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) event held in Combe Martin, Devon, for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Prime Minister David Cameron will attend a Jubilee party in Downing Street.

A third of all of Scotland's street party applications have been made in Edinburgh, with 10 official events scheduled across the city.

On Monday, a concert will be held in front of Buckingham Palace in the area surrounding the Queen Victoria Memorial, with performances from artists including Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John, Jessie J, JLS and Ed Sheeran.

When it ends at 22:00 BST, more than 4,000 beacons are due to be lit in the UK and around the world.

The Queen will light the UK's last beacon - the National Beacon - at about 22:30 BST, to be followed by a firework display at Buckingham Palace.

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BBC News, 2012. Diamond Jubilee: River Thames pageant to honour Queen [Online] (Updated 3rd Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1432523/Diamond-Jubilee-River-Thames-pageant-to-honour-Queen [Accessed 26th Jul 2014]

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