Liveblogging the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant

Picture: Joseph Bennett

You know what? I think everyone who’s been in the same job of 60 frigging years should get to ride down the Thames in a pimped out barge, don’t you?

Up here in sunny Scotland, I’m watching BBC1’s coverage. We get shots of the queen arriving at Epsom yesterday dressed, appropriately, in royal blue. Beatrice looked like she was wearing a tablecloth. Shame.

Reminder of upcoming coverage for the next two days. Hoping to head to the Royal Mile tomorrow night to watch the lighting of the Edinburgh beacon.

Not much happening yet–talking heads are doing filler.

Woo hoo, Edinburgh! Street party in full swing, despite the fact that there weren’t that many street parties planned north of the border. Shame. This neighborhood looks familiar…

Over to Anglesy, Wales. Beach party rained out–that sucks. Partygoers moved inside and seem pretty happy, though. Many Union Jacks waving.

Over 1000 boats lined up on the Thames for the biggest pageant for over 300 years. Shame about the weather, but I’m looking forward to the show!

Wow, the Thames is half the width it was 300 years ago? What happened?

3-D graphic of the pageant route. Hi, London Eye! Man, they’re really trying hard with the filler, aren’t they?

I like that they’re including boats that were involved in Dunkirk. Way to salute a moment when civilians seriously stepped up.

Ooooh, London Symphony Orchestra bringing up the rear. Hope they play Handel’s Water Music. That would be rather appropriate, don’t you think?

Chelsea Pensioners lined up ready for the queen to arrive at the pier. Queen due to arrive in about 20 mins, Wills and Kate in about 15 mins. Charles and Camilla any minute.

Killing time by talking about how important the Thames has been throughout London’s history. I think we all know that, right?

Ok, let’s be honest–we’d all like to be able to put Diamond Jubilee Pageant Master on our CVs, right? I mean, that sounds pretty awesome.

For Pageant junkies: The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich currently has an exhibition on covering pageants of years past.

Royalty is here! Charles and Camilla arrive–he in full naval univorm, she in cream. Looking good, the pair of them. Wish she’d brought a brolly that wasn’t trimmed in black, though. They shake hands and have a few words with all the Pensioners.

Wills and Kate arrive. Kate is in BRIGHT RED. I mean, it’s a colour that really yells. Looks good on her, but seems a bit flashy, considering it’s supposed to be the queen’s day. She works the crowd charmingly, though.

Does the queen’s barge have a teeny tiny hedge maze on the top deck? What is that thing?

Oh, Harry’s with Wills and Kate as well. Didn’t really notice him. He looks good in uniform. The stripe down the side of his trousers matches Kate’s outfit. +10 points for coordination.

Princess Elizabeth steam train is parked on the Battersea Rail Bridge, just puffing away.

Gah! That person in the crowd wearing the Prince Harry mask–for some reason, it looks horrifying.

The queen has arrived! Wearing white–not a colour we usually see her in. She looks good, though I wish she’d not worn those same shoes she wears all the time. Ditch the black gran shoes and put on something gold and a bit fun, it’s your day!

Charles and Camilla greet the queen and everyone has a bit of a giggle before trumpeters start playing and the crowd goes WILD. Queen, Prince Philip, Charles & Camilla board the launch that’ll take them to the barge, everyone smiling and happy, having a good time. Nice to see.

The steam train toots as the launch–which apparently is from the Royal Yacht Brittania–circles and brings the queen to the barge. Churchbells pick up the chorus and peal across the city. I love that sound.

Back to the talking heads. Snack break! Is it wrong to be eating a Scotch Egg while watching a show celebrating the monarchy?

William and Kate work the crowd on the barge, waiting for her majesty to arrive. Queen’s smiling and waving at the cheering crowds. Glad the rain stopped down in London; I wish we could send our sun their way!

Her majesty arrives at the barge. The launch is tied up alongside, a staircase is lowered. Talking heads start spouting off random facts and figures to fill time. Her Majesty finally boards, followed by the Duke of Edinburgh as the Royal Standard is raised on the bow. Man, that is one seriously pimped out barge. It’s gilded and bedecked with red velvet and everything.

The wind’s picking up, but Kate’s hat doesn’t even flutter. That thing must be glued to her head.

The Pageant Master greets the queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles and Camilla as they board. They start to circulate.

The Belfry Bells start to go, signaling the start of the Pageant. And yet, we’re dragged away to watch a Talking Head bug some new mothers at a hospital.

And they’re off! The royal row barge Gloriana is absolutely stunning. It’s flying the flags of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and has 18 rowers. They’re getting a hell of a workout today, setting a pace of 4 knots. The queen waves as it passes the royal barge, accompanied by a whole fleet of rowboats. Beautiful color–it’s quite a sight.

I swear, that’s about the eighth mention of Canaletto the talking heads have made since this thing began. I should have turned that into a drinking game.

The boats all raise oars in salute as they pass Her Majesty. A soldier on shore leads the crowd in three cheers for the queen, and they happily oblige.

Overhead shot. Wow, that is a LOT of rowboats.

Now we get the flotilla of boats flying the flags of all the commonwealth countries. Another very colorful sight.

Hi there, Boris Johnson! He and some of the other London higher-ups get their own barge, which is now sailing past the Spirit of Chartwell.

Trinity Number 1 Boat sails past, with Princess Anne and her husband, Timothy Lawrence aboard.

And the Spirit of Chartwell is off! Hee, Prince Philip’s having a lot of fun!

Ahh, hello, Middleton family. Totally blending into the crowd on the boat they’re on. Talking Head totally forgot Kate’s brother’s name for a second there.

Oh, God, a Talking Head is trying to interview one of the Gloriana rowers. SHUT UP, talking head, the man has to row 15 miles!

And now we get to go join Richard E. Grant near Westminster. Jesus, BBC, I love Richard E. Grant and all, but I just want to watch the pageant, not all this nonsense filler!

And now they’re showing a section of the river with no boats on it. WTF?

OK, back on Chartwell. The Queen goes downstairs for a bit; Kate chats with William, Harry, and Charles. And now that I get a slightly better look at it, I think that is a tiny hedge maze decorating the deck. It’s definitely some sort of shrubbery…

Apparently the lower deck of Chartwell is done up like the Orient Express and those on board can get drinks and canapes there. Party Barge!

We get a shot of the bells swinging away on the Belfry Barge, but for some reason we can’t hear them. I think BBC’s having some sound and editing issues.

Artists are strung along Millennium Bridge, painting away. One man’s painting on a door, and another one who loves Turner has done a truly hideous work. Not my cup of tea, obviously.

The rowboats are passing Westminster and the London Eye. Looks like the wind may have died down just a bit, which I’m sure is a relief to many.

I hear bagpipes! Woo hoo!

Public service boats are getting underway; fire brigade boat has hoses going full blast.

Queen’s now wrapped up in a shawl and back on the upper deck.

The Dunkirk “little ships” are moving. I salute you, little ships.

Gun salute starts outside the Tower of London.

Oh dear, it looks like the rain’s started back up in London. I doubt it’ll put a damper on things, though.

Beatrice, Eugenie, and Prince Andrew look oddly lonely on their own boat.

A talking head is amazed to discover that a family that lives on a boat has actual furniture aboard. What the hell does he think, they just sleep on deck?

Oh, cool, there are signal flags being waved at Royal Festival Hall. I’m assuming the Duke of Edinburgh is going to interpret what all that means to the people on the Chartwell.

Woah, Royal Festival Hall’s putting on a hell of a show–the horse from War Horse (the play) gallops across the roof and salutes the queen, to her delight. Awesome!

The Sea Containers Building is decorated with a huge picture of the Queen and Royal Family on the BP balcony during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in ’77.

Chartwell passes St. Paul’s, and the talking heads helpfully remind us of how iconic it is. TH’s in the studio tell us how great the Belfry sounds. Too bad we at home can’t hear it. Oh well.

Canaletto! Drink!

The rowers reach The President, just past Tower Bridge. All done for them!

Brollys go up all over the Chartwell–looks like they’re all red and blue, how patriotic!

The Edwardian (the boat the Middleton family’s on) has its very own orchestra. Swanky!

Cadets and veterans on HMS Belfast whistle to salute the queen as she passes.

Tower Bridge opens up to “salute” her majesty as the Chartwell approaches. Royal Marines trumpeters trumpet. I can still hear bagpipes somewhere in the background, which makes me happy.

Woah. A talking head chats with an elderly veteran who had his ship blown up during the war and had to cling to a dead shark while waiting for rescue. That’s a story so insane it must be true.

Chartwell maneuvers itself into position to deliver the royal party onto the HMS President. That barge is huge; it must take a hell of a lot of maneuvering. The sailors on board HMS President are all lined up, waving their hats in unison and cheering.

Much talk about the weather now. So exciting. Apparently, it’ pouring rain, which is spoiling the paintings being done by people on the Millennium Bridge. All the talk is detracting from the procession of working boats, which I guess the BBC doesn’t think are interesting enough to actually show much of. Thanks a lot, BBC. Really, talking about the weather is sooo much better.

Her Majesty watches the working boats pass the Chartwell, which is now moored up alongside President. Lots of Union Jack umbrellas on boats and crowd–patriotism win!

One of the music boats–carrying a soggy but rather joyful seeming choir–passes under Tower Bridge.

Impressive cacophony of noise from all the working boats as they pass the royals.

OK, BBC’s just devolving into utter stupidity now–a man wearing pearls and toting a handbag like the queen’s knights one of the reporters for working in the rain–so I think it’s time for me to sign off. Thanks for all who joined me!



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