Aussies soak up Queen’s Jubilee pageant with Brits
Australians joined an estimated 1.25 million rain-lashed royal supporters, lining the Thames to celebrate the grand spectacle of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant
AUSSIES joined an estimated 1.25 million rain-lashed royal supporters who displayed their stiff upper lips by lining the Thames to celebrate the grand spectacle of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on a bone-chilling Sunday.
It could not have been a more British occasion. Pomp, ceremony and appalling weather.
Dressed in a striking white and silver outfit, the Queen sailed downed the famous waterway on the majestic red-and-gold Spirit of Chartwell for the centrepiece of the Jubilee events to mark her 60 years on the throne.
It was billed as the biggest event on the Thames for 350 years and the motley flotilla provided a colourful tribute to the island’s rich maritime history.
The Queen’s Jubilee River Pageant started in a blaze of colour under grey skies in London but the weather turned increasingly foul and left many shivering, including the Duchess of Cambridge, dressed in a striking bright red dress by the same designer who created her wedding gown.
Not surprisingly, the Queen barely flinched and showed her stoicism by standing throughout a miserable afternoon to greet the armada in conditions reminiscent of her coronation in 1953.
The driving rain and darkening skies forced the cancellation of the flypast and the fireworks to conclude the pageant struggled to make an impression against the clouds.
Even the normal military precision attached to royal events was off, the program running more than half an hour behind schedule.
And some boats appeared to have gone missing in action.
Guinness World Records tallied 670 vessels having passed Tower Bridge with 1000 having started the 11-kilometre journey.
In a nice touch, the bascules of the famous bridge were lifted in a salute to the second-longest serving monarch in British history.
Not that the Queen let the weather get her down.
She ensured a bright note at the end of the pageant by breaking into a smile and moving from side to side to a sea shanty played by the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir.
However, for all the grandness and historical weight of the occasion, the weather took a bit of an edge off the day and only the true believers remained until the end.
“It is just a phenomenally moving experience to be here. It is just a shame the weather is so s…,” said Australian tourist David Black, from Canberra.
And despite the historic nature of the Jubilee pageant, its significance was not lost on a group of Australian youngsters.
Asked what he planned to do when the royal barge passed, eight-year-old Jake Moore (pictured with his friends) said: “I’m going to wave my Australian flag.”
Did he think the Queen would wave back?
As bleary-eyed Australians back home stayed up to watch the spectacle on television, 45 of their compatriots braved the weather to row nine gold surf lifesaving boats near the front of the flotilla.
Four Australian navy members formed part of the Queen’s ceremonial guard while New Zealand was represented by a waka, that needed a reprieve to be allowed to participate because of safety fears, and a whaling boat.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key sailed on the Sarpedon, which was set aside for Commonwealth leaders.
Australians to take part in remaining Queen’s Jubilee events
The weather is set to clear by Monday evening in time for the BBC Diamond Jubilee Concert with the line-up including Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Australia’s Kylie Minogue and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.
When the concert ends, more than 4000 beacons will be lit throughout the UK and the Commonwealth. Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard lit a beacon at Parliament House in Canberra earlier in the day.
The Jubilee celebrations will be completed with a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral with a carriage procession and a flypast at Buckingham Palace, which thousands of UK Aussies are expected to attend on Tuesday.