May 24 2013 Latest news:
Terry Mitchinson, Editor
Sunday, June 3, 2012
ORGANISING today’s (Sunday’s) River Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant for the Queen has been a massive logistical challenge for Lord Salisbury’s team.
The organisers have spent months preparing and practising, leaving nothing to chance.
The Thames itself, with its strong tides and eddies, is a dangerous place.
So input from the Port of London Authority has been key, according to Lord Salisbury.
“There will be between 25,000 and 30,000 people on the river for the pageant, so controlling this will be a massive task,” said Lord Salisbury to the Welwyn Hatfield Times before the flotilla set sail on the River Thames.
“Their health and safety is paramount.”
Another major issue is, of course, the crowds.
“We have no way of knowing how many people will be there on the day,” said Lord Salisbury, of Hatfield House.
“But we want everyone to come along! The number of VIPs will be kept small. We want it to be a great public event.
“Around 1.9 million people could be accommodated along the river bank, but we think there will be far more than that.
“We have to be prepared for far more, for immense crowds.
“We also hope people will stay around afterwards and continue the celebrations among themselves.”
The pageant flotilla features 1,000 boats – there were 4,500 applicants – split up into 10 sections.
Each section is headed by ‘herald barges’ playing different sorts of music – The London Philharmonic is involved and 12 pieces of music have been commissioned from various composers.
“It was a very, very difficult decision as to who would be included,” said Lord Salisbury. “A special committee had to be set up to decide.”
The flotilla set off from Chelsea led by a floating belfry containing a peel of eight bells.
As it proceeded along the river, bells at churches along the banks joined the chimes.
“We hope then bells from all over London, the country and even the Commonwealth will joining in,” said Lord Salisbury.
Next in line is a “beautiful row barge”, rowed by 18 of the Queen’s Watermen.
Then comes the Queen and her party on her stunningly ornate Royal Barge.
The rest of the flotilla will feature a huge range of boats, from Britain, the Commonwealth and beyond, including from the Navy and Royal Marines, Dunkirk Little Ships, Dutch barges, war canoes, dragon boats, Thames River Cruisers, traditional Thames working barges, square riggers and oyster smacks.
It will take “around 74 minutes” for the Queen’s barge to make the trip.
When it reaches Tower Bridge, it will stop and the rest of the flotilla will proceed past.
Lord Salisbury said: “The whole pageant will be an amazing spectacle.
“And we have a very special surprise planned for the final moments.”