Giant Royal Family photo greets Jubilee flotilla

A boat passes a giant image hanging from a building on the south bank of the River Thames in London showing Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family -- Prince Charles, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, Earl Mountbatten, Prince Phillip, Mark Phillips and Princess Anne -- standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Queen's 1977 Silver Jubilee. (AP)

The Royal Family doesn't get much bigger than this.

River1A giant -- 100 metres by 70 metres -- canvas with a 35-year-old photograph of the Royal Family was unveiled Friday morning on the River Thames, a not-so-subtle reminder of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations taking place June 3 on London's famed waterway.

The image shows the Royal Family, from the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations, covers the front of Sea Containers, a former office building that is now being converted into a luxury hotel.

It took eight workers 45 hours to piece together the photograph, which weighs two tonnes, according to the hotel developer. (To get an idea of the size, it's as long as a CFL football field and about 10 metres wider).

The mammoth canvas serves the dual purpose of hiding the hotel construction and decorating the route of the thousand-boat flotilla which will sail on the Thames to mark Queen's Elizabeth's 60 years on the throne.

The photo shows the Queen while Prince Philip; their sons Charles, Edward and Andrew, daughter Anne with then-husband Mark Phillips, and Earl Mountbatten (Philip's uncle, who was killed by the IRA in 1979). The photographer is unknown.

"When this Silver Jubilee photo was taken 35 years ago, the South Bank was an unvisited stretch of the Thames -- not the centre of business, tourism and culture that it is today," said Jonathan Ofer, managing director of The Deerbrook Group, which manages assets for the hotel owner.

The Thames River Pageant will cover 11 kilometres and pass under 14 bridges, including London Bridge. The last time there was a Diamond Jubilee -- Queen Victoria's in 1897 -- there was one one bridge crossing the Thames. The Royal Family will be riding the route on the Gloriana.

People walk on Blackfriars Bridge in sight of a giant photograph of the British Royal family on a building on the River Thames on Friday. (Getty Images)

River 3
Workers secure a giant canvas along the River Thames of a photograph showing the Royal Family during the 1977 Silver Jubilee. (Reuters)

Queen Elizabeth gets a preview of Gloriana, the royalbarge in which the Royal Family will travel for the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on June 2. (Getty Images)


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Its a pity that the thousands (a million?) of spectators will not really see anything because the bridges will mostly be closed, likely cleared of spectators as the Queen goes under, and the river banks both south and north are not elevated enough for good viewing. Why are there no grandstand arrangements? As usual the good folk of London and its tourists have been left out of this once in a lifetime event. Much like the tickets for the Olympics - all have gone to the rich who can afford them or those with connections in high places. To provide large t.v. screens - mainly on the north bank - is not really acceptable. What's the point in watching t.v. screens standing in a heaving mass of others? One might as well stop at home and watch the event on t.v. - if the Beeb bothers to transmit it. As a long time resident, pensioner and council taxpayer living in West London and helping to foot the bill I feel excluded from the Jubilee weekend, just as I feel excluded from the Olympics. :sad: :sad: :sad:

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