Whilst Her Majesty The Queen continues with her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, by visiting many towns, villages and cities throughout the UK over the summer months, the Spirit of Chartwell, that spectacular Royal Barge so prominently featured in the Diamond Jubilee river pageant, is now stripped of the regalia that took six months to turn her from an up market pleasure cruiser to a boat fit for a Queen.
The banks of the river were packed with more than one million people lining seven miles of the Thames to pay tribute to one extraordinary woman in a patriotic sea of red, white and blue flags, hats, umbrellas, banners and bunting. Despite the torrential rain, the cheers were deafening every inch of the route, mile after mile. Thanks to television tens of millions more people around the world were impressed and even stunned as they watched this breathtaking pageant to end all pageants.
Within only 3 days of the celebrations ending, the royal barge was almost fully stripped and after a paint job and the replacement of the original extravagant fixtures and fittings, the vessel is now ready to continue plying the river Thames as a luxury commercial pleasure cruiser.
Some very important equipment that has not been removed are the 11 SOLASAFE roller sunscreens that were installed at the vessel’s wheelhouse windows by Solar Solve Marine’s Technical Manager, Ron Taylor, when it was built 2 years ago, to reject glare, heat and u.v. radiation from the sun.
John Lightfoot MBE, Solar Solve’s chairman commented, “This was another excellent example of our speedy teamwork with Ron going down to London, measuring the windows, the screens being manufactured here at the South Shields facility whilst he prepared the windows with brackets and special fabrications and then installing the screens after they arrived at the vessel the next day.”
“Unfortunately on the day of the Jubilee Pageant the weather was very unkind and the screens were not required, however they do get some really nice sunny days on the Thames when the benefits of using the SOLASAFE screens are welcomed by the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’s’ master and crew.”
The ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ was donated for the event by owner Philip Morrell who said that the fixtures, furniture and carvings, including the thrones for The Queen and Prince Philip, that have all been removed will now go on show at the Docklands museum in London.
He added: “I knew we had built something special – ideal, I thought, for the carriage of royalty. But little did I even vaguely suspect that in the course of one short year we would be graced with such an honour.”
Top Image – The ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ decked out as Her Majesty The Queen’s Royal Barge, sailing down the river Thames during The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant. Although not required on the day, the wheelhouse has 11 SOLASAFE roller sun screens installed at the windows that can be brought into use instantly as a navigation safety aid on bright or sunny days.
Below Image – 3 days after the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant ended, the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ had been stripped of the royal regalia, but not the SOLASAFE screens, and a start had been made on her restoration to a luxury river Thames pleasure cruiser. She was back at work by mid June.