There are few if any words to describe the overwhelming feeling of sailing down river from Wandsworth Bridge and uttering the simple word “Go” to then realise the avalanche of emotions when from your barge The Academy of Ancient Music promptly strike the downbeat and the Thames River resounds with Handel’s Water Music and a cacophony of applause from the thousands of people lining the riverbank echoes across the water.
The celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth 11 was underway on Herald Barge “The Edwardian” at precisely 2.28pm on June 3, and was one of a thousand boats that sailed down the Thames on Sunday. The vessel carried us past The Spirit of Chartwell where we paid our respects to Her Majesty and from there we continued down river passing the throngs of people who waved their flags from riverbank to bridges, rooftops, balconies, the bay windows of hotels packed to capacity and overfull boats leaning too heavily on the starboard side as people craned to get a glimpse of the procession.
The Herald Barge “The Edwardian” was one of eight barges that hosted the musical performances of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Decked out in dinner jackets the Academy of Ancient Music performed on board for almost two hours until we finished our passage at approximately 4.06pm.
Despite constant rain and an easterly wind, my journey on “The Edwardian” on such an historic day is an unforgettable one and given that this will never happen again in my lifetime , that’s something very special to own. By Aisling Fitzgerald, Burncourt.