Gloriana (barge)

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The royal barge Gloriana

Gloriana is a 94-foot-long (29 m) British royal barge. She was privately commissioned as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee, and was the lead vessel in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.


The project to build Gloriana was initiated by Lord Sterling, who stated he got the idea for a waterborne tribute to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee from her eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales.[1] Lord Sterling financed the estimated £500,000 construction cost of the project.[2] Additional backers included Sir Donald Gosling and Canadian billionaire Galen Weston,[3] as well as Monaco-based Israeli shipping and real estate magnate Eyal Ofer.[4] After leading the Jubilee parade Gloriana was presented to the Queen as a gift.[2]

Design and construction[edit]

Gloriana at Henley Royal Regatta 2012

Gloriana is a 94-foot-long (29 m) rowing barge. She is powered by 18 oarsmen and 2 electric inboard engines, and can carry an additional 34 passengers and crew. According to Lord Sterling, the design is inspired by Canaletto's London paintings of 18th-century barges.[1] According to The Daily Telegraph, the design resembles the boat used by the Lord Mayor of London in the 1800s.[2]

Construction began in November 2011 at a site in Brentford, and was led by master-builder Mark Edwards.[1] The materials used includes wood from sweet chestnut trees from Prince Charles's estate.[1] The sculpture and ornate carvings were designed and produced by Polygon Scenery, managed by Dave Crosswell, which were decorated in gold leaf.

Gloriana's oars were made by Windsor, Berkshire based firm of J Sutton Blades, who have constructed the ornately-decorated oars. They have been making oars and sculls since the 1970s. Normally for Stanley & Thomas wooden boats.[5]


Launch and naming[edit]

On 19 April 2012, Gloriana was transported by road from the factory to the River Thames, being placed in the water for the first time at Isleworth.[1] The Queen officially named her on 25 April 2012, during a visit to re-open the restored Cutty Sark in Greenwich.[1]

Diamond Jubilee pageant[edit]

Gloriana was the lead vessel in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, a parade of over 1,000 boats and ships down the River Thames in London, organised as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.[1] She led members of the Royal Family other than the Queen and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who were aboard the 210-foot-long (64 m) MV Spirit of Chartwell, a motorised barge.[1][6] Among the 18 rowers were Olympic gold medallists Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent, also former British Olympic rowing crews including James Cracknell, Jonny Searle, Guin Batten, Miriam Batten (Silver medalists at Sydney Olympics in 2000) and Ben Hunt-Davis and also British servicemen – Will Dixon, Rory Mackenzie and Neil Heritage – who all lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan.[3]

During the pageant Gloriana carried ten flags, among them those representing the four home nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,[7] as well as the flag of the City of London and the flag of Cornwall.[8]

Olympic Flame[edit]

Gloriana carried the Olympic Flame on the river Thames on 27 July 2012, as part of a flotilla of rowboats.[9] The barge was moored on the Lea Navigation at the Olympic Park in Stratford during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Great River Race[edit]

On Saturday 15 September 2012, Gloriana was the leading boat of the oar-race on the final stretch from Richmond, London to the finishing point at Ham, London. Gold Medal rower Sophie Hosking and Silver Medallist Rob Williams were aboard Gloriana. She was also rowed by youngsters supported by The Rowing Foundation, the Race’s official charity. She passed under Richmond Bridge before mooring up opposite the finish, below Ham House, in time to greet the winner of London’s 25th River Marathon. [10]

Twickenham Barge House Proposed[edit]

On 28 June 2014 Richmond upon Thames Council took the local electorate by surprise with the announcement ‘The proposed new river park in Richmond upon Thames could become home to the Queen’s Royal Row Barge, should planning permission be approved’. This £3 million scheme aroused furious opposition from residents who wished to keep Orleans Gardens, a crucial part of Twickenham's Riverside, free of large buildings. Measurements are estimated to be that of 7 terraced houses. Residents were equally angered that plans had been kept secret until after the local elections citing a Breach of the Local Government Code that requires transparency; the plan is proven to have been in gestation since 2012.

While it has been argued that this is a vanity project of the leader of the Council Lord True in his wish to make the Borough of Richmond a candidate for a Royal Charter, in order to compete with its neighbour the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, it is thought, by many local residents, that the Orleans site is wholly inappropriate. Orleans Gardens are widely (but erroneously) believed to be protected by the 1902 Richmond, Petersham & Ham Open Spaces Act and are home to protected species of flora and fauna. Local residents led by Mandie Adams McGuire MBE, Paul Bigley and Dr Susan Burningham campaigned for the Council to consider an alternative site. Local MP and Secretary of State Dr Vince Cable added his name to the campaign. The Council announced that it had abandoned the scheme on September 12 2014. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Royal barge Gloriana launched on Thames in London". BBC News. BBC. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Queen's Diamond Jubilee barge 'Gloriana' launched onto Thames". The Telegraph. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Eagar, Charlotte (June 3, 2012). "The greatest show on the Thames for 350 years: £1million Gloriana will lead pageant of 1,000 boats in Diamond Jubilee showpiece". Daily Mail. 
  4. ^ James Pickford, Eyal Ofer donates £10m to Tate Modern extension, Financial Times, July 2, 2013
  5. ^ "Oars unveiled for the Royal Barge ‘Gloriana’". Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Queen's Diamond Jubilee royal barge design unveiled". BBC News. BBC. 11 December 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Bartram, Graham (2012). "A Visual Guide to the Flags used in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant". The Flag Institute. p. 5. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Mystery over Cornish flag on jubilee boat is solved". The West Briton. The West Briton. 2012-06-14. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Olympic torch: Thames trip on royal barge Gloriana on relay's final morning". BBC News. 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Team GB Olympians last Hurrah aboard the Gloriana for this years Great River Race". Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Richmond could become home to the Queen's Royal Rowbarge". Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Twickenham Gloriana Experience (now with added poll & pictures & updates)". Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Museum for queen's barge Gloriana sparks protest in Richmond". Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "‘Orleans Garden is protected from development by Act of Parliament’". Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  15. ^ "‘Potential borough home for Gloriana NOT to proceed’". Retrieved September 12, 2014. 

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