DREW Broadley, Hillside, tells us: “My granddaughter, Lydia Broadley, last week visited London for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and wrote a report about her view of the Royal Flotilla from Chelsea Bridge.”
Lydia is nine years old and we are pleased to print extracts from her account of a fabulous day.
She wrote: Policemen are walking past with guns! The sides of the river are lined with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. Watching, waiting, listening for the bells of the lead barge to start ringing.
Here, on the bridge I’m on, there are 1,100 people: 800 on the west side and 300 on the east.
Looking across the river I can see Chelsea Embankment to my right.
To my left (Battersea Park), everyone is waving their flags enthusiastically. Behind me beyond a metal fence, police are shifting reluctant people off the bridge because only people who have tickets are allowed to remain.
And here they come. At first, just a few dots on the horizon, but then they become more numerous until the river is littered with boats. At the front of the pageant is the bell-ringer barge with bells ringing in a perfect pattern and tune. Next (at the front of the man-powered section) is the glorious Gloriana with 10 or so paddlers. Then come the rowing boats. There are fire boats, dragon boats, canoes, kayaks and normal rowing boats.
After them are the cadets – all blue and white in their uniform, in perfect formation, waving hats and, of course, us waving our flags frantically. Everyone on the bridge is laughing, chatting and generally having a great time.
In the next section, a stunning barge with decorated gold sculptures with a splash of colour here and there. The downstairs windows are draped with scarlet curtains and at the front of the barge are two velvet red thrones. Behind them is The Queen!
‘I’ve seen her with my own eyes in real life!’ was the first thought that went through my head. She is wearing a white outfit containing a hat, skirt and jacket – and her famous white gloves.
The barge passes with a tremendous amount of cheers from the crowds gathering.
A few minutes after the magnificent barge had gone passed, flagged by six police boats, the fourth section appeared (historic and working boats). In the section there are lots of different historically-important boats – like the actual boat that carried Winston Churchill’s coffin, and the boat used it the James Bond film ‘The World is Not Enough’.
Also in that section are lots of very old boats with carefully-polished and gleaming decks. At the back of that section are the working boats with their horizontal, bright orange lights on.
Then came the Dunkirk Little Ships. They were used in World War 2 at the time when Winston Churchill ordered everybody who had a boat to go out and sail to France to rescue the people on the shores of Dunkirk being attacked by German soldiers. Two brothers stole a boat to go and save people off the shores because the man who owned it had decided not to waste his time with the journey.
The next section is normal motor boats. There are lots of different motors in this section including plastic, teak, a bit of both, or maybe just normal polished wood.
The last and final group are the narrow boats gliding smoothly through the water with their brightly-painted decks, hulls and outer walls. These portable homes are closely followed by another, slightly decorated music barge with beautiful singers and an amazing, amazing orchestra with its harps, violins and cellos, etc.
What an astonishing day. I’ve never seen anything quite so staggeringly brilliant in my life before! And I saw The Queen!