|THE HENLEY WHALERS
River Pageant for HM The Queen's Garden Party, Henley - 25th June 2012
"Nice day for a pageant". Certainly, in comparison to the two windy and rainy days of rehearsing, Monday dawned sunny and stayed that way!
A garden party for 4,000 guests, organised by the Lord Lieutenants of Berksire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire, included a river pageant with enactments, depicting "Time and The Thames".
All pageant craft were in position one hour before Her Majesty arrived at Hambleden Lock to embark on the steamboat, Alaska, for the short voyage to Greenlands, home of the Henley Business College. Formed up in sequence and dispatched at exactly the right moment, craft passed, both upstream and downstream, in front of The Queen in perfect synchrony with the pre-recorded commentary.
"Nice day for Pillage" you might have said. Molly, disguised as a Viking long-ship, illustrated The Thames as a highway carrying incoming invaders, whilst Dunkirk boats passed in the opposite direction representing the fleet of which many had set out from The Thames to rescue British troops from the French beaches in World War Two.
The sun shone, the crowds cheered from both banks, and Molly's "Viking" crew shouted warlike cries whilst rowing at precisely the specified 4 knots against the strong stream.
"Nice day for entertaining The Queen". Molly's crew for the event included six members of Reading University Rowing Club, and six members of The Henley Whalers, all proud to be granted the privilege of, albeit oh-so-briefly, entertaining Her Majesty The Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.
It is clear from the pictures that the crowd is enjoying the spectacle, and it would seem Her Majesty is also amused.
“The Vikings screamed and imitated animal sounds during battle to intimidate their enemies. One of their cries was "Ahoy!". ... This has since become a peaceful greeting used by sailors of many nations, but at the time it was considered to be extremely warlike..” (Wikipedia)
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