Royal barge is the jewel in diamond celebrations

THE ornate royal barge that will carry the Queen along the River Thames during a spectacular pageant to mark her Diamond Jubilee was unveiled yesterday.

The vessel and a 1,000-strong flotilla of smaller craft will recreate scenes not seen on the Thames for centuries as part of next year’s celebrations.

An artist’s impression reveals a design that echoes the richly decorated royal barges of the 17th and 18th centuries, reflecting the historical nature of the pageant. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be seated on the vessel’s top deck in ornate chairs under a gold coloured canopy and will be joined by other members of the Royal Family.

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The Spirit of Chartwell cruiser, which is 64 metres long and has a top speed of 11 knots, will feature rich red drapes decorating its sides while the bow will display the Queen’s cipher – EIIR – below a crown with ornate golden floral displays around it. Flowers from the Queen’s gardens will adorn the barge and take as their theme the Commonwealth, the Queen’s 1953 Coronation and the Gold State Coach.

Pageant master Adrian Evans praised the work of award-winning production designer Joseph Bennett who is leading the project to transform the cruiser into the royal barge for next June’s celebrations. “The royal barge must be a jewel, the most magnificent vessel in the flotilla,” he said.

The Spirit of Chartwell is a luxury Thames river cruiser that has been donated for the event by her owner Philip Morrell.

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.

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