Thursday, 16 August 2012
An extra treat for me was seeing the Royal Barge, The Gloriana, moored in the Olympic Park. You will recall that it led out the huge flotilla of boats during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant, rowed by 18 oarsmen and women, including our former Olympic heroes Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. The rowbarge also had a role in transporting the Olympic Flame up the River Thames.
The boat was privately commissioned by Lord Stirling, inspired by Canaletto's paintings of 18th century barges on the Thames, as a gift and tribute to the Queen. It will have an ongoing role in promoting the River Thames and our other inland waterways, in celebrations and to support charitable events, especially those involving young people.
It's really beautiful, and a tribute to British craftsmanship. Under the guidance of master boatbuilder Mark Edwards, over 60 craftsmen from all over the UK were involved in its construction. It is made in part from sweet chestnut timber from Prince Charles's estate.
The buildings in the background on my photo are the temporary Water Polo arena, with the Aquatics Centre behind it.