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Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant Revealed

Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation Media Release

The organisers of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant have today revealed the major details of the 1000-boat tribute to Her Majesty The Queen’s 60-year reign. One of the largest public events ever held in London, the Pageant will take place on Sunday 3rd June - on the river from Putney to Tower Bridge.

The flotilla itself will be over seven miles long and – including mustering, dispersal and the avenue of sail – will include some 25 miles of Thames river bank and pass under 14 bridges. It will take 90 minutes to pass any given point.

This unique spectacle, inspired by a rich history and tradition of entertainment and theatre on the Thames, is expected to include 20,000 participants on the water, millions of spectators on the river banks and London’s public spaces and a global audience expected by the major broadcasters to number many hundreds of millions.

Lord Salisbury, Chairman of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation, said: “Our aspirations for this wonderful tribute to The Queen are coming together very well. We are delighted that The Prince of Wales has agreed to be our Patron. We are also very pleased to be able to announce Sainsbury’s as our first major corporate partner. This is a hugely ambitious project and it is gathering momentum day by day.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, whose office helped develop the project and gave early backing to the Foundation, said, "I am proud that London can play such an important role in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and there couldn’t be a better start to an outstanding summer of awe-inspiring events in the capital. The Thames Pageant and associated events around the capital will not only provide the most fitting tribute to Her Majesty’s 60 years on the throne but will be an amazing opportunity to show off to the world London's pride in its heritage and traditions ahead of the Olympics by hosting the most glorious homage to the past as a curtain raiser to a prosperous future."

Adrian Evans, Pageant Master and Director of the Thames Festival, added: “The breadth and high quality of applicants has made the selection process for participating boats very challenging. I thank everyone who has responded so enthusiastically to this unique event. We have a wonderful collection of vessels, a wide spectrum of every type of craft from humble kayaks to magnificent tall ships, with rowed shallops, oyster smacks, steamers, cutters, cruisers and barges.”

Justin King, Sainsbury’s Chief Executive said: “We’re proud to be part of what’s set to be a spectacular event marking the Queen’s 60 year reign. It’s a celebration that all of our customers and colleagues will be able to enjoy.”

The Music Herald Barges

The flotilla will be divided into ten sections, with music herald barges separating each one. The Pageant’s music will be a diverse mixture of the contemporary and classical. The Pageant organisers were keen to embrace the opportunity to commission new pieces and the selection therefore includes a number of world premieres. Examples include a new song with lyrics by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and a new work inspired by Handel’s water music, created by ten renowned British film composers. The final music herald barge will be the London Philharmonic Orchestra, performing a British repertoire, including music by Benjamin Britten and Gustav Holst.

The Sequence of the Flotilla

Heralded by The Royal Jubilee Bells, and led by Gloriana, the hand-built, 88-foot rowbarge, the first section will include rowed and paddled vessels, including Watermen’s cutters, modern row boats, kayaks and Dragon boats. The second section includes boats carrying the flags of the Commonwealth nations, Realms, Territories and Dependencies. Then comes the Royal section, with support vessels from the former Royal Yacht Britannia, accompanying the Pageant’s flagship, the Royal Barge, on which The Queen will travel. She will be followed immediately by the Guard of Honour. In the fourth section will be the Dunkirk Little Ships, followed by historic vessels in the fifth. Following the historic boats will be the working boats, including steam boats and tugs. The next – the seventh – will see an array of leisure vessels, followed by the eighth section of narrow boats and Dutch barges. The final two sections are designated for passenger vessels, allowing for significant public participation as part of the flotilla itself.

The Royal BargeThe Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, with other members of the Royal family, will be on board the Royal Barge, The Spirit of Chartwell, decorated and adorned for the occasion at the head of the royal section of the flotilla. The Prince of Wales will play a key role on the day as Patron of the Pageant.

Applications to take part from boat owners throughout the UK and the Commonwealth have been three times oversubscribed. The Pageant organisers made the final decisions on vessels selection, with advice from the Port of London Authority (PLA) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; the PLA’s role is to give navigational safety advice to the Foundation. Boat owners were told at the end of December whether they were successful. Those who were not successful have been invited to a special reception in a prime position on the day of the Pageant. Further details will be released at a later date.

Battersea Park Jubilee Festival

As part of the planned entertainment for the Pageant, there will also be a festival held in Battersea Park, where visitors will be able to watch the flotilla as it passes by the park’s northern Thameside. The Jubilee-themed entertainment, curated by Hemingway Design and Clare Patey, will be a day-long programme of funfair, competitions, games, food and cookery, storytelling, fashion, and live music through the decades.

Notes to Editors:

  • The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant is being organised by the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation. The Chairman is Lord Salisbury, who – as Viscount Cranborne – organised the D-Day, VE Day and VJ Day 50th anniversary events. The CEO is Michael Lockett, who has worked on the Hong Kong Handover Ceremony, the Millennium project and London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics. He was awarded the CVO for his work on the Golden Jubilee concerts at Buckingham Palace.
  • The Port of London Authority (PLA) is the organisation responsible for navigational safety on the tidal Thames.
  • Sainsbury’s has signed-up to become an event sponsor of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday 3rd June.
  • The Sainsbury’s sponsorship includes exclusive hire and use of two passenger vessels.

For further information please visit the Pageant website (opens in a new window).