350th ANNIVERSARY OF THE THAMES RIVER PAGEANT

August 23, 2012 marks the 350th anniversary of the Thames river pageant when a flotilla of a thousand boats set out on the famous London river to honor Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705),  the Portuguese born queen of King Charles II.  Because she was a Catholic, Catherine could not be crowned queen and so the river pageant served in some ways in lieu for her crowning.  The king and queen left from Hampton Court and traveled in great style on a boat decorated with cloth of gold, garlands and ostrich feathers.  The diarist Samuel Pepys witnessed the event and recorded that there were “a thousand barges and boats” while the famed artist, Canaletto, immortalized the event on canvas.  In June 2012, the event was recreated in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

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