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Royal Barge for Jubilee Pageant

Thames Jubilee Pageant Media Release


Revealed: The Royal Barge for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Magnificent design for state-of-the-art vessel, The Spirit of Chartwell, as the Royal Barge

Acclaimed designer Joseph Bennett to lead project

The Royal Barge (click on image to enlarge)
The Royal Barge 
(click on image to enlarge)

On Sunday 3rd June 2012, The Spirit of Chartwell will have top billing as the Royal Barge, carrying The Queen in the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant in celebration of her sixty year reign.   The Pageant, one of next year’s most exciting events, is unprecedented as the largest flotilla to be assembled on the river in modern times.

Accommodating The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family, the first sight of the Royal Barge on the Thames will be one of the most highly anticipated moments of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Operated by the Magna Carta Steamship company, The Spirit of Chartwell , a luxury Thames river vessel with opulent interiors, will be the most important boat on the Thames in next year’s flotilla.  She was chosen for a host of reasons, including size, comfort, safety and manoeuvrability, and consultation took place with a wide number of partners, including the Port of London Authority. Her owner, Philip Morrell, has generously donated the use of the vessel to The Queen for the Pageant.   After the event, The Spirit of Chartwell will resume her role as a cruising vessel on the Thames.

The cruiser will be decorated with an original design by Joseph Bennett and Rachel de Thame.  Multi-award-winning production designer Bennett’s diverse and distinguished career has included designing films, including Charlotte Gray and Jude, and television, including HBO series Rome, for which he won two Emmy awards.  He has also designed commercials, working with photographers such as Steven Klein and Mario Testino and designing celebrated catwalk presentations for the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The design will echo the richly-decorated royal barges of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reflecting the great historical nature of this event.

The Royal Barge will be adorned with flowers from The Queen’s own gardens by renowned horticulturist, garden designer and TV presenter Rachel de Thame.  A member of the Gardeners’ World presenting team since 1999, de Thame also presents Countrywise on ITV and the BBC coverage of the major RHS gardening shows, including The Chelsea Flower Show.

Red, gold and purple – the royal colours - will feature most prominently in the floral arrangements, which will reference the Commonwealth, the Coronation and The Queen’s Gold State Coach.  Adrian Evans, Pageant Master, said:  “The Royal Barge must be a jewel – the most magnificent vessel in the flotilla.  Joseph and Rachel have come up with a truly inspiring design, one that references the Coronation, the Commonwealth, the Gold State Coach and all the traditions of royal barges on the Thames, while creating something that is distinct and modern.”

The Spirit of Chartwell’s owner, Philip Morrell, said: “As The Spirit of Chartwell evolved, I knew we had built something special  – ideal, I thought, for the carriage of royalty, but little did I even vaguely suspect that in the course of one short year that we should be graced with such an honour”.

Other royal vessels to play key roles in the Pageant

A number of vessels with royal connections will play prominent roles in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, including the tender of HMS Britannia – known as Britannia’s Royal Barge - which was traditionally used to transport passengers to and from the Royal Yacht.  In the Pageant, the tender will play her original role, carrying The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to The Royal Barge, along with two motorboat escorts. 

Popular flotilla over-subscribed –

special riverside tickets for applicants whose vessels will not be in the final pageant

Applications to take part on the river closed on 31st October.  The possibility of joining in the 1,000 boat flotilla proved a huge attraction and the interest was overwhelming.  For each single place, three boats applied.   The selection procedure, based on specific criteria including, crucially, safety considerations, is currently taking place.  Successful applicants will be informed by 31st December that they have a place.  On the same date, unsuccessful applicants will also be notified, but there will still be an opportunity for those people to take part from the river bank.  As a thank you from the organisers of the Pageant, each principal applicant will be invited to bring a guest to a special event in a prime position on the day of the pageant.  Details of the event will be made public next year. 


Further information for journalists, contact:

Kate Levine, Partner, Pagefield 020 3327 4055/ 07740473641

Michelle Lavipour, Executive, Pagefield, 020 3327 4058, 07940 735 313

Journalists can find high resolution downloadable photographs on the Latest News pages at www.thamesdiamondjubileepageant.org (opens in a new window)

Follow us on Twitter @riverpageant

Notes to Editors:

  1. 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. 
  2. The Spirit of Chartwell was inspired by the Rene Lalique 1929 Pullman railway carriage ‘Cote d’Azur’. Some original pieces from this railway carriage can be found on board; there are also original fixtures and fittings from some ocean liners as the Union Castles – Windsor Castle & Kenya Castle - the SS France and MS Sneafel. www.spiritofchartwell.com (opens in anew window)
  3. The Port of London Authority (PLA) is the organisation responsible for navigational safety on the tidal Thames.