In London UK: Where the press is going gaga for Queen’s floating pageant

- June 4th, 2012

I’m in London, England right now, covering the visit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his wife Laureen, and their children Ben and Rachel as they represent Canada at Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The big event Sunday – in driving rain and chilly temperatures (10 C) — was the Thames Pageant. The Queen, in her royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, led a flotilla of 1,000 boats of all kinds down a seven-mile stretch of the Thames. Some of my favourite paragraphs from the wall-to-wall-to-wall coverage in the papers here:

120604 Daily Mail Front

Best lead to Robert Hardman, writing in The Daily Mail:

Ask the world to name three things which sum up Britain and you will get three answers: pageantry, rain and the Queen. Yesterday produced the greatest combination of all three that those lucky enough to be there will ever see.

It didn’t merely rain. It was Biblical. By the end of yesterday afternoon, we were expecting a late entry from Noah and his Ark. But it did nothing whatsoever to diminish a phenomenally stirring demonstration of all that it is to be British – in front of a crowd easily in excess of a million.

From: Four hours in the freezing rain at 86. How did the Queen do it?

120604 Telegraph
Best all-round summation from the Telegraph‘s Chief Reporter Gordon Rayner, melting elements from a team of Telly reporters:

Above all, though, this was a day for fun. Among the 10 music barges carrying floating bands and orchestras down river, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the last boat in the flotilla, cheekily conjured up the James Bond theme music as it passed MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross and gave the sodden crowds an impromptu rendition of Singin’ in the Rain.

Nothing summed up the day better than the sight of the London Philharmonic’s choir, pausing opposite the Queen, belting out Land of Hope and Glory as rain plastered their hair to their faces.

Not since the band kept playing on the Titanic has there been a more indomitable musical rendition in the face of so much water.

Not since 1662, when Charles II introduced his Queen, Catherine of Braganza, to the nation with a spectacular river pageant, have so many boats processed down the Thames with such unashamed patriotism.

From Happy and Glorious: The River Queen

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