The ship of Churchill’s last voyage, brimming with royals, will take to London’s waterway for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
THE AUSTRALIAN, 3 June 2012—Retired Sydney businessman Owen Palmer is among a select gathering on the prestigious 26-metre Havengore, along with Prince Andrew and his daughters princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, London Mayor Boris Johnson and former British prime minister John Major.
Best known as the craft which carried the coffin of Winston Churchill along the Thames for his 1965 state funeral, the twin-engined ex-survey ship was also used in the Queen’s 1977 Silver Jubilee river pageant.
“After being watched by 350 million people worldwide for Winston Churchill’s funeral, which was such a big event for the time, this (pageant) will be equally the biggest single public event (for the Havengore),” Mr Palmer said.
Built in 1956 and following a high-profile role, the ship was left to rot until Mr Palmer bought it in 1994.
“Ten years of my life, seven days a week work for seven men and it cost me $5 million,” he said of the dedicated restoration effort.
With intentions to bring the Havengore to Australia, Mr Palmer instead used the craft for his England-based children’s charity, until its sale in 2006 to current owner, Chris Ryland.
The Havengore, now used as a private charter vessel, will late today (AEST) follow the Queen’s royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, down the Thames, thrilling flag-waving crowds lining the riverbank.
Having accepted an invitation from Mr Ryland to be part of today’s flotilla, Mr Palmer said he is looking forward to the royal experience.
“I’m sure that I will enjoy talking to Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice. They are both beautiful and fun young women,” he said.
Also on board the Havengore will be Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
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