The past few days have been full of events marking Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating her 60 years on the throne. Because of the enormous personal popularity of this monarch, it’s a big, festive event in England, with an array of collaborative celebrations throughout the Commonwealth. Many diverse boats representing different nations also participated in Sunday’s amazing flotilla – emblems of cultural skill and pride.
Since boats are of interest in this part of the world, I wanted to highlight a few related items. Over one thousand boats participated in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pagent flotilla. (That website has lots of neat info on whole categories of boats, look under “Flotilla Participants”.) 670 boats reportedly completed the full pageant route from Westminster Bridge to HMS Belfast.
Here’s four minutes of video of the actual flotilla- really simple images with no narration – from the Daily Telegraph.
Here’s some video and a phone interview between the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge and Canada One sternsman James Raffan, while the flotilla was happening.
Raffan is also Executive Director of the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario. His crew paddled a canoe on loan from Paddle Canada, as detailed here. It’s a 30 year old, 26′ fiberglass replica North Canoe, called, Canot du Nord.
A number of decades ago, I paddled with a Hawaiian outrigger canoe club, in boats called wa’a. In a nod to my Pacific ties, here’s a bit more about a Maori waka that took part in the flotilla, including a report in Maori and English with some nice video of the waka in action. Team member Rose White Tahuparae wove special reed capes to cover the mandatory life jacket with traditional garb. (I understand at least one canoe in the Hawaiian style also partook, paddled by members of the UK’s self-proclaimed “primier outrigger canoe club”, the OCUK.)
I had hoped to share a text article by Victoria Ward on page A-7 of today’s Ottawa Citizen, because it lovingly described some of the many unique and historic boats on the river that day. At I write this, though, I can’t find any digital link for that article. If I manage to get that later, I’ll add it as a P.S. or additional comment.
The Telegraph’s Neil Tweedie had a nice summation of the soggy day:
It was at times hard to decide which would have been the drier: standing in the open air waving at the crowds on the banks of the Thames or simply diving in and swimming to join them. When the Diamond Jubilee river pageant of 2012 is written up for the history books, precipitation is likely to figure prominently in accounts. Yet, it really didn’t dampen the atmosphere; it simply made it more British. “They are as daft as we are,” mused Colin Ablitt, one of the crew of the narrowboat Doris Katia, as he waved for the 100th time at the equally drenched people waving back at him from “dry” land.
How very British indeed!
Happy boating (in any style) and a happy jubilee to all.