Six reservists from HMS Wildfire in Northwood honoured Her Majesty The Queen at her Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on the Thames on Sunday 3 June.
Lieutenants Andrew Carey, Laura Harrison, Hannah MacKenzie and Gillian Niblock lined the quarterdeck at HMS President near Tower Bridge, ready to give the Queen three cheers on her arrival.
The wind and rain did not dampen their spirits and after an hour or so’s wait they began to see the flotilla of brightly coloured small craft, the floating belfry carrying the eight specially cast Jubilee bells and the Gloriana row barge approach. It meant the Queen’s arrival was imminent and excitement began to rise.
Movingly, Tower Bridge then began to open for the Royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, to pass underneath. The reservists came to attention and in sight of the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal family, removed their caps and ‘cheered ship’ as the barge came alongside.
The Spirit of Chartwell was closely followed by a vessel carrying members of the Royal Marines Band.
Lt Harrison said
“It was quite magical hearing them play the Royal Navy marching tune ‘Hearts of Oak’ and that of the Royal Marines, ‘Life on the Ocean Wave’.
“We don’t ‘cheer ship’ very often, so the combination of doing it for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, in her presence, with a million people watching from the river bank, to a song that holds a place in every sailor’s heart made it a really special moment.”
When the Royal family disembarked their barge to pass through the naval regional headquarters located at HMS President, it was the turn of Leading Seaman Sue Bell and Able Seaman Dennis Brown. They were part of the Guard of Honour that greeted the Queen and ‘presented arms’ with their rifles in a Royal salute.
For Dennis, it was not his first encounter with royalty. A distant relative of the Duchess of Cambridge, he was also chosen for ceremonial duties at Westminster Abbey for her wedding to Prince William last year. Nonetheless, he was extremely proud.
“We put a great deal of time and energy into our rehearsals for the Queen’s arrival. It was an honour to be in the Guard and play a part in the Jubilee celebrations.”
The six reservists from HMS Wildfire then witnessed the entire Royal family and VIPs including the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Defence and the Mayor of London pass through the unit and into waiting cars, before they were able to go and take a closer look at the magnificent, golden Royal barge.
Naval Today Staff, June 20, 2012; Image: Royal Navy