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Comment 19 JANUARY 2012

Britain prepares for a summer like no other as organisers say flotilla will be privately funded

19 JANUARY 2012

This year will be remembered for the Queen's spectacular Jubilee celebrations, with London's mayor Boris Johnson promising that it will be "more exciting than the Olympics". 

As more details about the magnificent 1000-boat flotilla were announced, it emerged that the monarch – sensitive to the hardship caused by the recession – does not want taxpayers to pay for the festivities.

 

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"The Queen doesn’t want to feel like she is asking the public to contribute as a sort of appeal in these times. She is very sensitive about that sort of thing" organiser Lord Salisbury said.

His comment follows controversy over Education Secretary Michael Gove's suggestion that the nation should give the Queen a royal yacht in gratitude for her years of service.

The flotilla will be funded by wealthy sponsors and corporate benefactors. On Wednesay, supermarket Sainsbury's stepped forward as the first investor.

Meanwhile, Lord Salisbury is trying to coax the government to lift the estimated £2-million VAT on the event.

While the exact details of funding are still being sorted out, organisers are clear as to what direction the logistics and aesthetics will take.

 

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Adrian Evans, the Thames Pageant Master in charge of the Jubilee vessels, revealed that the flotilla is so grand it will take 90 minutes to pass any one point.

He also said that the extravaganza would "reclaim the Thames as a theatre of pageantry" and promised London "a Canaletto moment, referring to and 18th Century painting by the Italian master that helped inspire the 2012 event. 

Exciting details of the other boats that will accompany the flotilla have also been revealed. There will be a total of 10 music barges, headed up by a floating belfry whose thundering chimes will each be named after a prominent member of the royal family.

Philip, Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, William and Harry will all be represented – with the loudest, half-ton bell being named Elizabeth.

 

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And in a modern twist, Downtown Abbey composer John Lunn has been commissioned to put together a regal soundtrack to the celebrations.

The Thames tribute will take place on June 3 and millions of people are expected to line the river’s banks to catch a glimpse of the pageant.

More on the Diamond Jubilee

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