The Diamond Jubilee: Pageant on the River Thames
The Diamond Jubilee Pageant certainly proved to be a quintessentially British occasion, with weather to match. Rare drops of rain soon turned to a downpour, but they failed to dampen the spirit of 1.2 million-strong crowd that had gathered to cheer on their Diamond Monarch – and the Queen didn’t disappoint either. Undeterred by the weather, Her Majesty once again displayed her resilience and dedication to duty; in freezing weather, soaked to bones, she continued to smile and wave, refusing to make any concessions to the weather bar adding a shawl and sometimes rubbing her hands together to get warm.
The weather certainly proved no match for the determination of millions to properly celebrate the glorious occasion. From street parties across Britain, to millions hundreds of thousands who had gathered on either bank of the river Thames, the British once again showed their famous “Dunkirk spirit” – no doubt aided by the presence of dozens of the small ships of Dunkirk – by refusing to let anything spoil the glorious occasion.
The Diamond Jubilee Pageant is certain to be remembered for generations to come as once-in-a-lifetime event; Queen Elizabeth II is after all only the second Monarch in British history to celebrate the momentous occasion, the only other Monarch being her great ancestress, Queen Victoria. Advertised as the “most spectacular” nautical parade in 350 years, the pageant most certainly didn’t disappoint. With absolutely magnificent display of pomp and pageantry only the British can present, it became the undisputed centrepiece of the four-day Diamond jubilee celebrations.
The Queen and the duke of Edinburgh travelled the first short leg of her journey in the old royal launch from Britannia, a symbolic way of incorporating her beloved former Royal Yacht into the proceedings. Shortly afterwards, they boarded the Spirit of Chartwell, an elegant tourist boat re-designated as the Royal Barge especially for the occasion. The Royal Barge was beautifully decorated with 10,000 flowers from Her Majesty’s estate and was a fabulous sight to behold. On board, other senior royals – the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Henry – were already waiting for the royal couple. One of them had extra reasons to beam with pride; Prince Charles had personally supervised this entire project from the beginning and was undoubtedly pleased with the magnificent results.
The pageant set a new world record for the number of boats in a single parade, the previous recording having belonged to Germany, when 327 boats took part in a parade in Bremerhaven. More than 1,000 vessels of all shapes and sizes took part in the magnificent show. From over three dozen “Dunkirk Little Ships” (small boats that took part in the Dunkirk evacuation – rescue of hundreds of thousands of British and French troops during World War II – remembered as Miracle of Dunkirk), to modern extravagant boats, all took part in the pageant. Vessels across the Commonwealth took part in the Pageant; Maori War Boats, Indian Boats, Canadian and Australian ships – they all contributed to make the pageant a truly unforgettable spectacle. The organisers have certainly a lot to be proud of; despite the rain, the freezing cold, the crowded river and a quick pace to be kept, everything went smoothly and without incidents.
One of the highlights and probably greatest feats of the day was music; then orchestral “herald barges” all continued their performance, displaying utter contempt for the weather. Fully exposed on the top deck of the Valulla, The Band of the Royal Marines gave their Diamond Queen a brilliant rendition of Life on the Ocean Wave. The Shree Mktajeevan pipe and drum band won cheers and applause from the royal crowd for their rousing performance of When The Saints Go Marching In. Meanwhile, on top of the appropriately named cruise boat Symphony, was the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir; drenched from head to toe, they gave magnificent presentation of Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, and of course, God Save The Queen.
Overall, the mood couldn’t have possibly been more festive or cheerful. Even a planed protest from a group of Republicans failed to have any negative impact. Although the group had bragged that hundreds of their supporters would arrive in London for the “biggest and boldest anti-Monarchy protest”, in the end less than 50 showed up. And any efforts they might have made to somehow turn the day into anti-monarchy debate miserably failed; when they chanted: “Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie – out, out, out”, the crowds all around them spontaneously broke into a chorus of: “Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie – in, in in!”All their protests were then drowned out by a loud, impromptu and rousing rendition of God Save The Queen. In the end, the protest probably served only one purpose – showing just how popular and beloved the Queen is.
Immense crowds cheered as the barge carrying the Queen sailed past them, showing the unprecedented appreciated and regard Her Majesty enjoys. Queen Elizabeth has been one constant all the way through the times of social and cultural changes, a symbol of national identify and unity. During her reign, respect for politicians has plummeted, yet the Royal Family is popular as never before; recent polls suggest that approximately 80% of people believe Monarchy is a good thing for the country, with the Queen’s personal popularity sky-rocketing to all-time high. And that respect is certainly deserved; throughout her reign, Her Majesty never broke the promise she had given during in her 21st birthday speech: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”Filed under British Royals
Tagged Elizabeth II, Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, Prince Harry, The Duchess of Cambridge, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of Cambridge, The Prince of Wales.