1,000-boat flotilla sails for diamond jubilee

Celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee reach their climax on June 3 when a flotilla of 1,000 boats sails up the River Thames in a spectacle that presents formidable security challenges.

Venetian gondolas and a Chinese dragon boat will join kayaks, motorboats and a 19th century French trading ship for the first pageant on this scale on London's river since 1662.

Organisers have vowed to produce the biggest, "most exuberant" river pageant ever seen on the Thames -- but they admit the logistics of the £10.5 million ($16.5 million, 13.1 million euro) event will be "extraordinarily complex".

With the queen's ceremonial barge carrying the royal family and more than a million spectators expected to line riverbanks and bridges, the procession will double up as a security rehearsal for the London Olympics that open on July 27.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, as well as Prince William, his wife Catherine and his brother Prince Harry, are joining the queen and her husband Prince Philip on the sumptuous red and gold royal barge.

Music ranging from the national anthem and chiming bells, to Bollywood tunes and the famous James Bond theme will blare from boats as the 11-kilometre (seven-mile) long flotilla makes its three-hour journey.

The Thames flood barrier will be closed to ensure calm waters and traffic will be barred from seven of London's bridges.

From a failure of the flood barrier, to the royal barge's motor stalling or a monumental aquatic pile-up, there are a dizzying number of things that could go wrong.

Organisers have not been able to hold a full dress rehearsal but insist there is only a minimal risk of a crash between the boats, which include several that are more than a hundred years old.

"We want to keep the vessels close enough together to present a spectacle but far enough to avoid the danger of collision," David Phillips, chief harbourmaster at the Port of London Authority, told a London press conference.

"Collision would be the wrong word," added the pageant's director Adrian Evans. "'Kissing vessels' would be more appropriate," he said with a smile.

With the royal family on the river and London swamped by crowds as big as those that turned out for William and Catherine's wedding last year, security will be tight.

Two months ahead of the Olympics, London authorities are under pressure to deliver a smooth event, which apart from the policing has been funded by private donations as the taxpayer struggles under austerity measures.

Some 190 boats will sail alongside the pageant to handle security and respond to any emergencies, while around 5,500 police and 7,000 volunteers will be on standby.

London's Metropolitan Police have planned underwater searches and sniffer dogs will be on the scene, but the force has promised an "unobtrusive" security presence to keep the atmosphere festive.

And if a protester throws themselves into the water, as happened during the University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge in April, police say they are "confident" they can manage the incident.

But there is one factor the organisers are powerless to control. Even if proceedings on the river go off without a hitch, the weather could play spoilsport.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

  • Project NOAH exec receives recognition
    Project NOAH exec receives recognition

    Project NOAH executive director and University of the Philippines professor Mahar Lagmay recently received recognition from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his work in disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the Philippines. …

  • Nightclub ban for US troops
    Nightclub ban for US troops

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said yesterday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipino he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow the 10-day annual military exercises, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow
    US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening  defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Palace defends legal tack in sea row
    Palace defends legal tack in sea row

    There is nothing weak about taking the legal and diplomatic approach to push for the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Malacañang maintained yesterday. On Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares led a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s massive reclamation activities in the Spratly island group to fortify its presence in the disputed waters. Colmenares also criticized the Philippine government for supposedly not doing enough to defend …

  • Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death
    Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death

    The sons of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, yesterday appealed to government officials to do everything to spare their mother from death. “We love you,” Mark Daniel, 12, said when asked for a message for his mother following a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Mark Daniel, an incoming Grade 8 student, reiterated his appeal to those in power to help save his mother from death. His younger brother, …

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options