SIDEBAR: A river spectacular to celebrate reign of British queen
Feb 1, 2012, 2:06 GMT
London - A spectacle worthy of a Canaletto painting will be laid on to celebrate the 60-year reign of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II this summer, as a flotilla of 1,000 boats sails through London.
The spectacular flotilla - something not seen on the river Thames since the reign of Charles II some 350 years ago, is the centrepiece of the Diamond Jubilee pageant in June.
The 11-kilometre procession, to reflect Britain's maritime heritage, will feature historic vessels, the 'little ships' that sailed to Dunkirk in World War II, steamboats, dragon boats, barges, river buses and passenger ships.
It will also include ships provided by Commonwealth nations Australia and Canada, organizers said.
More than 1.5 million people are expected to watch as the river is 'reclaimed as a royal route' - in an event inspired by an 18-century painting by Venetian master Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto.
The queen and Prince Philip will travel on the royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, from where the queen will be 'seen by her subjects' from an elevated platform, said chief Adrian Evans.
Bells housed in a floating bell tower will ring a quarter peal during the procession, which will be answered by peals from churches along the route. A mix of classical music, regional British folk songs and military marches will be played.
The costs have been put at 12 million pounds (18 million dollars), which will be covered by private sponsors.
A Jubilee Lunch and numerous street parties will be another highlight of the celebrations, which take place over a long weekend from June 2 to 4.
In other activities to mark the jubilee, the queen and Prince Philip are set to tour all parts of the United Kingdom from March, while the younger generations of royals will be dispatched around the world to visit Commonwealth nations.
On March 20, the queen will address both houses of parliament to mark her jubilee. A Thanksgiving Service in St Paul's Cathedral will be held at the close of the celebrations on June 5.