By CHRIS HASTINGS
Majestic makeover: An artist's impression of how the Spirit of Chartwell will look when she is transformed into a Royal Barge in time to lead a flotilla to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year
Her usual passengers are tourists who pay to cruise along the Thames past London’s most historic sites.
But next year Spirit of Chartwell will take up her own berth in the history books – at the head of a magnificent 1,000-strong flotilla celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Award-winning film production designer Joseph Bennett and former model-turned television garden expert Rachel De Thame have been brought in to transform the already luxurious 210ft cruiser into a Royal Barge which will recall the splendour of the 17th Century.
Luxurious: The 210ft Spirit of Chartwell as she is today. The cruiser was originally built in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 2000, but was given an overhaul after it was acquired by the Magna Carta Steamship Company
And an official artist’s impression released yesterday reveals the extent of the makeover.
Elaborate gold gilt sculptures will be added, along with lavish red carpets, velvet drapes and two thrones beneath a canopy. Several Royal-themed floral displays will be made up of flowers from the Queen’s own gardens.
Pageant Master Adrian Evans, who is organising 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.’
Honoured: Former model-turned-TV garden expert Rachel De Thame has been given the task of revamping the Spirit of Chartwell. She has chosen to bedeck the vessel with red, gold and purple flowers
De Thame, 50, who now presents the BBC’s Gardeners’ World and Countrywise on ITV, has chosen red, gold and purple flowers and her designs will also reference the Commonwealth, the coronation and the Gold State Coach.
She said: ‘I feel extremely honoured to be involved in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. My aim is to help make the day a truly special one for the Queen.’
During the Thames trip, the Queen and Prince Philip will be centre stage on the two thrones, which have been specially positioned under a gold-gilted canopy to ensure crowds are given the best possible view of the pair.
Palace officials are currently deciding which other senior Royals will be on the barge.
What is certain is that Her Majesty will be accompanied by members of the Royal Watermen, whose ceremonial duty is to accompany the Monarch on all her official journeys by river.
Right Royal occasion: The barge will be designed so that The Queen and Prince Philip can be easily seen as they take centre stage on two thrones for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations
Decadent: The Queen and Prince Philip will sit under a gold-gilted canopy (centre). The design of the barge will also incorporate features celebrating each of the past six decades of the Queen's reign
The walls are adorned with original glass panels by celebrated French designer Rene Lalique and the vessel boasts panoramic windows and hardwood finishes throughout.
Her nine-hour Memories of London voyage, which includes a champagne reception, three-course lunch and a gala dinner, costs from £195 and £265 per person.
Last night, her owner Philip 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.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2072626/Ones-Jubilee-barge--glamorous-model-whos-making-fit-Queen.html#ixzz1gGbwAfyY
Celebration: Her Majesty and Prince Philip will be accompanied on the journey by members of the Royal Watermen, whose ceremonial duty is to accompany the Monarch on all her official journeys by river, when she marks 60 years on the throne in June next year
Up until the mid-19th Century the Monarch would regularly travel on the Thames either on ceremonial occasions or between the different palaces.
As other means of transport began to prove more efficient, however, it was deemed no longer necessary to keep a Royal Barge.
The Queen does occasionally make use of the Royal Nore, a vessel made available to her by the Port of London authority.