3 Jun 2012

Pageant skipper’s ‘nerves and excitement’

The skipper of My Harmony – one of more than a thousand boats taking to the Thames for the Diamond Jubilee pageant – tells Channel 4 News he is nervous but “plans to have a ball”.

The river pageant will be the biggest collection of historic vessels ever assembled on the Thames.

The royal barge carrying the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the royal family has been specially created for the event and is an adaptation of an existing vessel.

The Spirit of Chartwell, decorated with replica carvings and sporting a majestic red, gold and purple colour scheme, will be at at the centre of the 1,000-strong Jubilee flotilla as it makes its way down the Thames.

The flotilla will be travelling at a speed of four knots with the ebbing tide increasing its speed over ground to six knots.

The oldest boat taking part was built in 1740 while the largest is 65 metres long.

The formal river procession will be between 2.00pm and 6.00pm, starting upriver of Battersea Bridge and finishing downriver of Tower Bridge. The boats will muster between Hammersmith and Battersea and disperse from Tower Bridge to West India Docks.

Among the vessels taking part is “My Harmony”, a Dutch-built boat owned by Tony and Rita Gordine.

Read more: Who pays for the Diamond Jubilee?

Speaking ahead of the event Tony told Channel 4 News he “plans to have a ball”.

“Our original attempt for the pageant failed and nothing happened and we weren’t in it until January when suddenly we got a letter saying ‘would you care to participate’ and we said ‘yeah you bet’!

“We’re a bit nervous perhaps that we’ll do everything right … on the day we’ve got to leave our mooring at exactly the right moment, there’s no ifs and buts about it.”

Rita added: “The fact that we have been accepted is such a pleasure and I’m sure we’re going to thoroughly enjoy it.”

Organisers of the floatilla hope to recreate scenes not seen on the river for more than 300 years, since the reign of Charles II.

Chelsea pensioners will make up a Guard of Honour for the Queen, Philip, Charles and Camilla at Chelsea Pier, and a tender will take them to nearby Cadogan Pier where the royal barge will be moored with the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry waiting onboard.

Havengore, the vessel that carried Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin during his state funeral in 1965, will also carry members of the Royal Family including the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

More on the Jubilee