The Royal barge Gloriana began life as a project initiated by Lord Sterling. He received the inspiration for a waterborne tribute to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee from her eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales. Not only did he come up with he idea, Lord Sterling put his hand in his pocket and part-financed the estimated £500,000 construction cost of the project. Additional backers included Sir Donald Gosling and Canadian billionaire Galen Weston.
The Queen officially named her on 25 April 2012, during a visit to re-open the restored Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
Mr. Mark Edwards, owner of Richmond Bridge Boathouses had this to say regarding his role in the construction of the Royal barge Gloriana:
"The reason I was contacted for this, because 10 years ago we built the Jubilant."
"With that in mind and the requirement for a larger vessel, Lord Sterling came up with the idea to build a proper state barge and I was there to advise on the rowing aspect of it and that was two years ago."
“There was a proposal for one to be built but the original plan fell by the wayside so I suggested I could build a very traditional wooden one and they went for that. I was chosen as the boat builder and so I called in my eight boat builders and then eight boat builders from all over England.”
"The boat’s keel, made from iroko, a west African timber, was laid in November last year and just 20 weeks later, after months of everyone working double shifts, the boat launched in Isleworth on April 25."
“We have had a common aim and everyone has worked fantastically to achieve the vessel. It’s an amazing vessel that turns every eye, so when we have been out on the water people don’t carry on walking, they actually stop. It is a most glorious sight with the carvings and the gold leaf.”
The Diamond Jubilee river pageant
Among the 18 rowers powering the Gloriana were Olympic gold medallists Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent and British servicemen – Will Dixon, Rory Mackenzie and Neil Heritage – who all lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During the pageant Gloriana carried ten flags, among them those representing the four home nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the flag of the City of London and the flag of Cornwall.
Despite the fact that elements of Gloriana’s design can be traced back more than 1,600 years and the technology used in its construction is very much rooted in the past, the barge is fitted with auxillary propellors powered by high-tech lithium-ion batteries - just in case.
After leading the Jubilee parade, the Royal barge Gloriana was presented to the Queen as a gift.
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Based on an article from http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2114802_jubilee_boat_builder_revels_in_gloriana_glory and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloriana_(barge)
Images care of http://millerharris.blogspot.co.uk/2012_06_01_archive.html and http://www.classicboat.co.uk/uncategorized/meet-the-man-who-built-the-royal-rowbarge-gloriana/