Published in
Features

Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant: Water Music for a Queen

England became a dominant power at sea during the time of the first Queen Elizabeth, so it is fitting that one of the many celebrations honoring the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II should be a joyous flotilla.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 vessels will process up the River Thames in London. The participating vessels will include naval yachts; working vessels such as tugs; and steam boats, river barges, passenger boats; and what the event’s official site calls “an exuberance of historic boats.”

All will be dressed in their finest with streamers and Union Jacks. They will be carrying members of the navy, royal heralds and hundreds of ordinary citizens to honor the Queen’s 60-year reign. The celebration will reflect both England’s vibrant maritime history, and the heritage of the River Thames as a witness to history and vital avenue of commerce.

Many of the ships and boats will also offer musical tributes -- from an opening by the Royal Jubilee Bells, to fanfares by the Royal Marine band, to pipe and drum ensembles, to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s closing performance. 

And of course, Handel’s Water Music will be featured, in a performance by the Academy of Ancient Music. The piece was written by Handel for a concert requested by King George I, and had its premiere, from a barge on the Thames, on July 17, 1717. 

The river procession will take place between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. London Time. The pageant will be televised on BBC America beginning at 8:45 a.m. EST.

The route of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Photo credit: The route of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

In New York, there will be a companion event taking place on Sunday. Ten British yachts competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will participate in a parade of sail. This smaller flotilla is expected to pass the Statue of Liberty around 10.30 a.m. to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee and arrive in North Cove Marina in front of the World Financial Center at midday.

Jubilee celebrations in London culminate on Tuesday. A concert honoring Her Majesty featuring Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder will be televised on ABC on Tuesday beginning at 9 p.m.

See a slideshow of boats in the flotilla and the Diamond Jubilee celebration:

Queen Elizabeth II will travel on the Royal Barge on the River Thames on Sunday.
Queen Elizabeth II will travel on the Royal Barge on the River Thames on Sunday. ( By Joseph Bennett. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
The Spirit of Chartwell, pictured here in front of Hampton Court Palace, will also be part of the pageant.
The Spirit of Chartwell, pictured here in front of Hampton Court Palace, will also be part of the pageant. ( Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
As will the Elizabethan, a passenger boat.
As will the Elizabethan, a passenger boat. ( Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
Alan Lamb, head of historic carving at City & Guilds of London Art School moulding the Prow sculpture for the Royal Barge.
Alan Lamb, head of historic carving at City & Guilds of London Art School moulding the Prow sculpture for the Royal Barge. ( By Roger Cannon. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
The Prince of Wales with Lamb and Pageant Master Adrian Evans.
The Prince of Wales with Lamb and Pageant Master Adrian Evans. ( By Steve Stills. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
Ann Carrington working on the banner for the Royal Barge.
Ann Carrington working on the banner for the Royal Barge. ( Photo by Colin Baldwin. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
Silver Jubilee memoribilia is on view now at The Pump House Gallery.
Silver Jubilee memoribilia is on view now at The Pump House Gallery. ( The Pump House Gallery. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
Gerhard Jenne. A pixelated portrait of The Queen made out of 3,120 cakes, one for each week of her reign, will be made by bakers Konditor & Cook as part of the Jubilee weekend celebrations.
Gerhard Jenne. A pixelated portrait of The Queen made out of 3,120 cakes, one for each week of her reign, will be made by bakers Konditor & Cook as part of the Jubilee weekend celebrations. ( By Ken McKay. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
Preparation for the portrait of The Queen made out of cakes.
Preparation for the portrait of The Queen made out of cakes. ( By Ken McKay. Copyright © 2012 Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. )
On Sunday, free 'Queen Masks' were handed out for the Jubilee.
On Sunday, free 'Queen Masks' were handed out for the Jubilee. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Union Jack flags were also out to celebrate 60 years of the Queen's rule, even at the supermarket.
Union Jack flags were also out to celebrate 60 years of the Queen's rule, even at the supermarket. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Pimm's released a collectors brew.
Pimm's released a collectors brew. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Even canines strutted their stuff for the Jubilee.
Even canines strutted their stuff for the Jubilee. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Passersby could get a look at the action on the Thames by watching a JumboTron.
Passersby could get a look at the action on the Thames by watching a JumboTron. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Rain did not dampen the spirits of the revelers, who lined the banks of the Thames to watch the festivities.
Rain did not dampen the spirits of the revelers, who lined the banks of the Thames to watch the festivities. ( Steven Ehrlich )
People stood on balconies along the river, waiting for the Queen's barge to arrive.
People stood on balconies along the river, waiting for the Queen's barge to arrive. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on Sunday.
Celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on Sunday. ( Steven Ehrlich )
One of the musical barges - this one with bells - made its way along the Thames.
One of the musical barges - this one with bells - made its way along the Thames. ( Steven Ehrlich )
The narrow ships come into view.
The narrow ships come into view. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Another music barge, this one carrying a band, entertained the crowds.
Another music barge, this one carrying a band, entertained the crowds. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Loud cheers greeted the Sea Cadets.
Loud cheers greeted the Sea Cadets. ( Steven Ehrlich )
Historic tall ships that would not fit under some of London's bridges waited at the end of the flotilla route to meet the Queen.
Historic tall ships that would not fit under some of London's bridges waited at the end of the flotilla route to meet the Queen. ( Steven Ehrlich )
The royal family, including the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry review the flotilla ships from the royal barge.
The royal family, including the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry review the flotilla ships from the royal barge. ( Steven Ehrlich )
The Parade of Sail on the Hudson took place at the same time as the Jubilee in London.
The Parade of Sail on the Hudson took place at the same time as the Jubilee in London. ( Clipper Round the World Yacht Race )
Ten British yachts passed the Statue of Liberty at around 10.30 a.m. on Sunday.
Ten British yachts passed the Statue of Liberty at around 10.30 a.m. on Sunday. ( Clipper Round the World Yacht Race )
of