On 24 September around 150 boats, some motorised and some manpowered, set off from Albert Bridge at dusk to begin the 5-mile route towards Tower Bridge as part of the Reflection Flotilla which was organised by the Thames Festival Trust. The boats were embellished with white lights to create an illuminated river, and Tower Bridge, the final of the nine bridges along the route, was illuminated in purple in remembrance of the Queen.
Crowds lined the route to watch the spectacle pass by and to take a moment to remember the Queen. The flotilla was led by the RNLI and the newly commissioned Duke of Edinburgh lifeboat.
The Queen’s Royal Barge, Gloriana, was the centrepiece of the flotilla and stood out along the route with her oars draped in white lights creating an impressive sight amongst the many boats. Members of HMS President’s ship’s company were onboard Gloriana, along with Ben Fogle who joined in with rowing the boat. As the flotilla passed HQS Wellington a salute was given with rowers raising some of their oars as they passed by.
As Gloriana travelled under Tower Bridge, oars were again raised in salute with the remaining boats also partaking in the salute, including HMS President’s Arthur Tisdall VC cutter. The team rowed well, maintaining the four knot pace despite suffering a broken oar. They were met at the finish by friends and family who were able to watch the flotilla from HMS President which offered a prime view of the flotilla passing under the bridge.
Following the salute and minute’s silence, the flotilla finished with shouts of “Long Live the King” and numerous boats sounding their horns.