Queen's Diamond Jubilee royal barge design unveiled

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Media captionThe BBC's Niki Cardwell reports on the unveiling of the royal barge design

The first image has been released of the royal barge that will carry the Queen down the Thames during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations next year.

The vessel will lead a 1,000-strong flotilla along the river on 3 June, as the monarch marks 60 years on the throne.

She will be joined on board by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the Royal Family.

The barge will be adorned with flowers from the Queen's gardens.

Gold canopy

The monarch and her husband will be seated on ornate chairs under a gold canopy as the vessel, the Spirit of Chartwell, cruises down the Thames.

Image caption An artist's impression of the royal barge, which will carry the Queen along the Thames

In a nod to the richly decorated royal barges of the 17th and 18th centuries, the sides of the craft will be decorated with red drapes, while the Queen's cipher and a crown will be displayed on the bow.

The floral displays will feature a red, gold and purple colour scheme and will be created by horticulturist Rachel de Thame, who appears on BBC Two show Gardeners' World.

The project to transform the Spirit of Chartwell into the royal barge is being led by designer Joseph Bennett.

Donated for the occasion by owner Philip Morrell, the vessel is 64 metres long and has a top speed of 11 knots.

Mr Morrell said: "As the Spirit of Chartwell evolved, I knew we had built something special - ideal, I thought, for the carriage of royalty, but little did I even vaguely suspect that in the course of one short year we should be graced with such an honour."

'A jewel'

The barge will lead 1,000 other craft east along the Thames from Battersea to Tower Bridge.

Image caption The Spirit of Chartwell as it looks now

Adrian Evans, pageant master for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, said: "The royal barge must be a jewel - the most magnificent vessel in the flotilla.

"Joseph and Rachel have come up with a truly inspiring design, one that references the coronation, the Commonwealth, the gold state coach and all the traditions of royal barges on the Thames, while creating something that is distinct and modern."

The organisers of the event are assessing all the entries that applied to join the pageant and those who are successful will be told by the end of the year.

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