Sunday, 3 June 2012

Big Party in London today!

Diamond Jubilee: Thousands watch River Thames pageant

The Queen has set sail on her royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, as the Diamond Jubilee river pageant takes place on the Thames in London.

What a never-to-be-seen-again party they are having in London today, especially along the Thames. I will never forget as a five year old, when our Queen came to New Zealnd, and we lined the streets to greet her abd hillip. We all got a medal and a booklet, and for me, she represents stability, democracy, and a safety valve for ruthless politicians.

Tens of thousands of people, more than 10-deep in places, have lined the banks to watch the 1,000-strong flotilla.

Rowing boats are leading the way and saluted the Queen by raising their oars in the air as they passed.

Earlier, Prince Charles joined a London street party, one of many in the UK to mark 60 years of the Queen's reign.

The river spectacle, which began with mustering at 11:30 BST, officially started with the ringing of Jubilee bells at 14:40 BST and will end at about 17:30 after the last vessel completes the seven-mile route at Tower Bridge.

The Queen, dressed in a white hat and a silver and white coat designed by Angela Kelly, was ferried to her barge on the launch of the now-decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia after being greeted by a spontaneous rendition of the national anthem from the crowds.

She is accompanied by senior royals, including the Duke of Edinburgh and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the boat, which has been decorated with 10,000 flowers from the royal estates.

At the scene - Hammersmith

At around 12:00 BST, to get people this end of the river into the spirit of what is to come, dozens of boats from the man-powered section rowed past Hammersmith in formation to join the head of the flotilla.

Boats that are still moored up in this stretch of the river waiting for their turn sounded their horns and blew their whistles, while their crews cheered and clapped the rowers on.

There are rowboats large and small, most flying flags or bunting. There's even a Viking-style boat. Their different-coloured oars dip in and out of the water, adding much needed colour to this grey day.

The lucky ones even have a canopy to protect them from the elements. Meanwhile, on the towpaths, people stop to look and take pictures. It looks impressive, and the pageant proper hasn't even started yet.

The Thames barrier was closed to slow the river's flow. Some 20,000 people are expected to be in the boats of the flotilla, which will travel at 4 knots (4.6 miles) an hour.

The Spirit of Chartwell left Cadogan Pier once the rowing boats had safely passed. Leading the rowing boats is the million-pound row barge Gloriana. Among the 18 rowers are Olympic gold medallists Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave.

Surprise royal guests join Diamond Jubilee street party

Also among the man-powered vessels was a triple skiff rowed by TV adventurer Ben Fogle, Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton and Atlantic rower Olly Hicks.

Richard Everitt, chief executive of the Port of London Authority said a "safety hard shoulder" was being set up on the north side of the Thames so any boats that broke down or experienced problems could be assisted.

Vessels have to stick to a pre-arranged formation, keeping a boat's length apart from those in front of and behind them, because "if one boat starts to veer, they all will", said pageant co-ordinator Ian Welsh.

A collection of small ships used to rescue stranded troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 will also take part, led by the Motor Torpedo boat 102, the flagship of the officer who co-ordinated the evacuation.

A boat carrying eight specially cast Jubilee bells will lead the water-borne procession, and churches along the river bank will return the peal as it passes. There will be 10 musical barges, carrying choirs and orchestras.

Surprise royal guests join Diamond Jubilee street party

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the 86-year-old Queen during an interview on BBC One's Andrew Marr programme, saying: "Her insight and her sharpness is extraordinary and I don't see any sign of her working less hard." But his own Jubilee party in Downing Street has been moved indoors because of the weather.

In Piccadilly, central London, the BBC's Sangita Myska said there was a "huge crush" as well-wishers flocked to greet the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall at the street party where 500 tables have been set up.

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