'Gloriana' rules the waves: First new royal barge in 100 years sets sail20 APRIL 2012
Rehearsals for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee got underway on Thursday when the lavish Gloriana set sail for the first time.
She is the first royal barge constructed in 100 years and made an arresting sight as she glided through the water in preparation for the June 3 celebrations.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expected to be her first VIP passengers on the day. They will be joined by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.
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The £1 million vessel will head a fleet of 1,000 boats down the Thames in an opulent show of pageantry that is expected to draw millions of spectators to the river’s banks.
Its aesthetic is a nod to royal history and a time when monarchs travelled by boat in utmost style.
Former P&O Ferries executive, Lord Sterling, is in charge of the barge project, and he confirmed the painstaking detail that went into the boat's sumptuous features.
"I became enamoured with the idea of building something timeless and got inspiration from Canaletto's paintings that showed the great barges of the 18th century," he said.
"No-one has really built anything like this for 200 years."
The craftsmanship behind the 88ft Royal row barge is certainly spectacular – being hand-built from wood taken from the sweet chestnut trees that grow on Prince Charles' estate.
It was the Prince of Wales' idea to honour his mother with a stunning boat that would commemorate her 60 glorious years on the throne.
Gloriana will be at the head of a flotilla backed up by the Queen's vessel Spirit of Chartwell – a luxury cruiser being refitted for the occasion.
She will be powered by eighteen oarsmen, including Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave.
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