The evening of Saturday 24 September saw the largest flotilla of vessels sail through London since the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant in 2012.
Some 150 boats – all of which were decorated in glistening white lights – were involved in the mesmerising procession, which was witnessed by crowds stretched along the banks and bridges of the five-mile route.
The Reflections event signalled the coming together of the river community to mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III. As the boats glided peacefully by, it enabled those involved and watching on to remember the past and think positively about the future.
The Queen’s Row Barge, Gloriana, formed the centrepiece of the flotilla. Chris Livett – now Bargemaster to His Majesty King Charles III – was at the helm, and she was rowed by adventurer Ben Fogle and past winners of the historic race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge.
As well as being extensively involved in the meticulous planning and execution of the event, Livett’s also provided numerous support vessels on the day.
A spectacular journey through the heart of London
The flotilla mustered at Albert Bridge, before floating downriver through central London, passing beneath Chelsea Bridge at 7pm and Westminster Bridge at 7:30pm. During the journey, the Reflections flotilla sailed under the nine bridges that make up the Illuminated River, helping to create a beautiful night time Canaletto scene.
The culmination of the flotilla came at Tower Bridge at 8:15pm, which was bathed in purple light and raised to mark the occasion.
A night-time flotilla, Reflections, marks the passing of Her Majesty the Queen and the accession of King Charles III.
Part of Totally Thames, the illuminated flotilla travelled from Chelsea Bridge to Tower Bridge pic.twitter.com/UZTe2eFLgP
— PA Media (@PA) September 25, 2022
For centuries the River Thames has played an important role in many Royal and State occasions, with this memorable evening continuing an age-old tradition. Indeed, Reflections is believed to be the first illuminated flotilla to be seen on the Thames for over 300 years.
Raising money for the RNLI
In addition to being a tribute to the remarkable life and 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the event also had charity at its heart. Reflections was designed to raise up to £20,000 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to support the construction of a new lifeboat station at Waterloo Bridge.
Promoted as part of Totally Thames 2022, Reflections was organised by Thames Alive together with a group of people who played a central role in the delivery of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012.
“Reflections was a poignant way for our community to say thank you to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for a lifetime of service,” said Chris Livett following the event. “The River Thames played a key part in the unforgettable 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and it is fitting so many were able to come together once again 10 years on to remember her reign and mark the start of a new era under King Charles III.
“I would like to say a personal thanks to each and every individual who was involved in putting Reflections together. It was wonderful to see so many people both on and off the river embracing this captivating experience.
“We all look forward to seeing the River Thames continue to play a central role in the life of our country.”
Thank you to Maritime Filming for capturing spectacular photography of the event.