A Royal Tea Cruise

Gloriana flies the Royal Standard on the bow indicating that the Queen is on board. Photo © Sue Milton.

The tireless Malcolm Knight, a great promoter of traditional rowing, reports on a special event that took place on the River Thames on a hot day last July. HTBS has previously written about Malcolm in our report on the Tudor Pull.

Malcolm writes,

After six months, the plans were finally in place for the most important event so far in the life of the Queen’s Row Barge Gloriana.

The Royal Watermen who rowed wearing their heavy woolen costumes on one of the hottest days of the year.

On 9 July, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the company of the Duke and Duchess of Wessex, the Duke of York, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent boarded QRB Gloriana at Albert Bridge, Home Park, Windsor, to be rowed by eighteen of the Royal Watermen under the helm of HM Barge Master Paul Ludwig for an afternoon tea cruise to celebrate the 60 years since her Coronation.

The Queen’s Barge Master, Paul Ludwig, and Malcolm Knight.

The Countess of Wessex chats to the Watermen. Sir Steve Redgrave, on the right, looks on.

The flotilla of four invited craft, under the control of Malcolm Knight aboard the Gentleman’s launch Verity, moved off upstream to the surprise and delight of other boats on the river. The QRB went up the weir stream to Eton College where invited members of staff and their families cheered the spectacle.

Malcolm Knight meets The Queen. On the right is Lord Sterling, the man who initiated the Gloriana project as a tribute to the Queen on Her Diamond Jubilee. He also provided much of the finance.

Whilst the Watermen took a well-earned breather, tea was provided to the Royal guests by the Waterside Inn after which the QRB turned and returned downstream to moor below Victoria Bridge where the Royal party went ashore.

The Queen and the Royal Party on the deck of the Gloriana. On the left is the Duke of Kent, a cousin of the Queen. Next to him is Brigitte, the Danish-born Duchess of Gloucester. To her left is Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the Queen’s forth child. In the centre, Queen Elizabeth and a Waterman acting as coxswain. On the right of the group is Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, also a cousin of the Queen. Behind Richard, but obscured by a flag, is Prince Andrew, Duke of York, the Queen’s third child. His other rowing engagement this year in Vancouver, Canada, was also covered by HTBS. On the far right is Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the wife of Prince Edward.

The Queen thanks her Watermen at the end of her day on the river. The Earl of Wessex and the Duke of York followed on behind.

A ‘little piece of history’ was made as it is believed that this was the first time in nearly 200 years that a reigning monarch had been rowed in an 18-oared Royal barge by the Royal Watermen – a memorable day for all of us involved and one that has confirmed Gloriana as The Queen’s Row Barge.

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