Although the Sovereign no longer retains a Royal Barge for travel on the Thames, the Royal Household still retains 24 Royal Watermen under the command of The King’s Bargemaster. They are chosen from the ranks of the Thames Watermen who work manning craft such as tugs and tourist boats. Many are Doggett’s Coat and Badge winners though it is not a requirement.
The Royal Watermen’s roles are now purely ceremonial and the rarest of these must be to be part of the escort to the Sovereign’s carriage at a Coronation. There are probably no surviving Watermen who last performed this task for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953. However, at the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III on 6 May, seventeen Royal Watermen were chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime duty.
In my preview piece on 6 May, I suggested that other Royal Watermen would be acting as boxmen on various carriages. This turned out not to be the case but thirteen Royal Watermen, including the King’s Bargemaster, Chris Livett, were part of the large contingent leading the passage of the Gold State Coach. The others were Simon McCarthy (Doggett’s 1984), David Arnold, Jonathan Hobbs, Gary Anness (Doggett’s 2011), Tony Maynard, James Clifford, Dan Ludwig, Paul Bryant, Sean Collins (Doggett’s 1990), Tim Keech, John Dwan (Doggett’s 1977) and David Eldridge.
The pictures marked @RoyalFamily were uncredited on the Royal Twitter account and are posted here under a claim of fair use. However, they will be removed at the request of any copyright holder.
Hi Tim. Lovely article thank you. Would you be able to send me pictures taken on the Mall please. ? Jonathan@hobbsofhenley.co.uk.
Will do, Jonathan, though all pictures on HTBS are at the highest resolution that I have and can be taken directly from the website.