is changing

Try our beta site and let us know what you think

Thames to host Diamond Jubilee with the largest flotilla of modern times

5 April 2011

River Thames to provide historic backdrop for spectacular public celebration of sixty-year reign of The Queen

New Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation to support Commonwealth and youth charities

On Sunday 3 June 2012 the River Thames will provide the backdrop for the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant – the largest flotilla to be assembled on the river in modern times – as the public are invited to take part in one of the major celebrations of Her Majesty’s sixty year reign.

The Queen will lead a flotilla of up to one thousand boats assembled from across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the World.  With a Bank Holiday the following day, the event organisers are planning for well over one million people to line the banks of the Thames to witness the pageant and join in the celebrations.

Letters have today been sent to the High Commissioners of every Commonwealth country – and to the Lord Lieutenants of every county in the UK inviting each to send a vessel for the flotilla.

The flotilla – expected to measure 7.5 miles long from end to end – will be one of the major focal points of celebration during the special Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, and will comprise a diverse mix of the historic and the modern: from rowed boats to sailing ships, steamers to wooden launches and larger motorised craft. The flotilla specifically aims to capture the diversity of Britain and the Commonwealth’s proud maritime history.

The Diamond Jubilee River Pageant will be a piece of theatre on the water and will integrate music, fireworks and special effects.   The flotilla will be made up of five sections each separated by a ‘herald barge’ the first of which will be a floating belfry of eight new bells cast by the Whitechapel Bell foundry and commissioned by the church of St James Garlickhythe.  Their peals will be answered and echoed by chimes from riverbank churches along the route.   Other barges will feature water jets and sprays reminiscent of the old Thames fire-fighting boats, live entertainment and music from the six decades of The Queen’s reign, and a pyrotechnic barge will provide further entertainment for the watching public, with daytime fireworks and a mechanical flame spitting dragon.

The water-borne parade will include representatives from the armed forces, fire, police and rescue, as well as passenger boats carrying up to 30,000 people as part of the flotilla itself. 

Roads, piers, and bridges will be closed to traffic to allow the public to enjoy this unique spectacle from as many vantage points as possible.  Along the route there will be up to fifty giant video screens.  The pageant site is expected to stretch from Putney Bridge in the West, to Tower Bridge and onwards to Canary Wharf in the East. 

The organisation of the event is being led by Lord Salisbury, who – as Viscount Cranborne – organised the D-Day, VE Day and VJ Day 50th anniversary events.  It will be funded by private donations and sponsorships, administered through a specially created limited company, the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation, registered as a charity and complying with the Charity Commission’s rules.  The Foundation aims to raise the funds for the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant and charitable projects that have a link to The Queen and her Diamond Jubilee, with a particular focus on areas such as the Commonwealth, youth and education, as well as supporting the wider charitable sector.

Lord Salisbury commented: “We are planning the greatest Thames flotilla for 350 years to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. I believe that we should recognise her sixty years of selfless public service with an event that can properly express our admiration and gratitude.  The Pageant is just that. It seems entirely right, in view of The Queen’s dedication to the Commonwealth idea, that young people from all parts of the Commonwealth should be the beneficiaries of such a legacy.”

London Mayor, Boris Johnson, said: "I cannot conceive of a more fitting celebration of Her Majesty's 60 years on the throne than a majestic flotilla of vessels, large and small, winding their way along the iconic River Thames and showcasing our proud maritime history. This magnificent pageant will not only provide a terrific focal point for Diamond Jubilee commemorations, but will demonstrate to the world London's pride in its heritage and traditions."

The pageant will be made up of both private and commercial vessels which must be nationally or internationally registered.  All vessels must be capable of travelling at four knots through the water for two hours.  Individuals and associations wishing to take part can register their interest and details through the website from today.

The Diamond Jubilee River Pageant is a key element of planned national celebrations across the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend. Further details will be released about the River Pageant at planned stages between now and June 2012.


Further information for journalists, contact:

Kate Levine; Associate Partner, Pagefield 020 7440 0980 / 07740473641

Sallie Ryle; Associate Partner, Pagefield 020 7440 0980 / 07768476930

Lucy Goodwin; Associate Partner, Pagefield 020 7440 0980 / 07961452558

Journalists can find a media pack and downloadable photographs on the media centre pages at

Twitter hashtag: riverpageant

Notes to Editors:

The Queen’s official Diamond Jubilee emblem was created by10-year-old Katherine Dewar, whose design was chosen from 35,000 entries in a nationwide competition on the BBC children’s programme Blue Peter in February. The emblem will be used on all official Diamond Jubilee activities, including community and national events, publications, retail and merchandising – it will also appear on the specially-designed Royal Ensign, featuring a Union Jack on a red background which has been created for the exclusive use of vessels making up the flotilla.

The event is being organised by the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation, chaired by Lord Salisbury, who – as Viscount Cranborne – organised the D-Day, VE Day and VJ Day 50th anniversary events.  His working group includes those who delivered the concerts at Buckingham Palace for the Golden Jubilee, the team delivering the annual Thames Festival and those who delivered the 10th anniversary celebrations for the National Lottery. The Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation will work closely with the relevant London boroughs, as well as City Hall, Government and the Royal Household, all of whom have expressed their support for the Pageant.

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation’s CEO is Michael Lockett, who has worked on the Hong Kong Handover Ceremony, the Millennium project, and London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics. He was awarded the CVO for his work on the Golden Jubilee concerts at Buckingham Palace. 

The membership of the Foundation is as follows:

Lord Salisbury (Chairman)

Michael Lockett CVO (CEO)

Charlotte Cowan, Executive Assistant to Michael Lockett

Sir Michael Craig-Cooper CBE TD DL

Adrian Evans, Pageant Master and Thames Festival Director

Shana Fleming OBE, Executive Assistant to Lord Salisbury

Mark Gallagher, Senior Partner and Founder, Pagefield

Munira Mirza, Adviser for Arts and Culture, Greater London Authority

Brigadier Roy Ratazzi CBE

Auditors: KPMG

Legal counsel: Pemberton Greenish

The Foundation’s fundraising aims to raise the funds to pay for the River Pageant and at least £100 million for the charitable legacy.

For further information about other initiatives and activities planned for the Diamond Jubilee, please go to