LONDON – The River Thames became a royal highway Sunday, as Queen Elizabeth II led a motley but majestic flotilla of more than 1,000 vessels in a waterborne pageant to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
In a colorful salute to the island nation’s maritime past, an armada of skiffs and sailboats, rowboats and paddle steamers joined a flower-festooned royal barge down a 7-mile stretch of London’s river.
With a crowd of rain-soaked spectators estimated by organizers at 1.25 million cheering from the riverbanks, the pageant was the largest public event in four days of celebrations of the 86-year-old monarch’s 60 years on the throne.
Today, the queen will join thousands of revelers at an outdoor concert beside Buckingham Palace, headlined by pop royalty including Paul McCartney and Elton John.
With any luck, the weather will improve. Sunday was dismal and damp, with rain scuttling plans for a ceremonial fly past, but that didn’t stop Union Jack-waving spectators from forming a red, white and blue wave along the pageant route.
The queen wore a silver and white dress and matching coat — embroidered with gold, silver and ivory spots and embellished with Swarovski crystals to evoke the river — for her trip aboard the barge Spirit of Chartwell.
The queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge — he in his Royal Air Force uniform, she in a red Alexander McQueen dress — and William’s brother, Prince Harry, were among royals who joined the queen and her husband, Prince Philip.
After a celebratory peal of bells from a special belfry barge, the royal boat sailed downstream at a stately four knots, accompanied by tugs, pleasure craft, narrow boats, kayaks, gondolas, dragon boats and even a replica Viking longboat.
Also in the flotilla were more than three dozen “Dunkirk Little Ships,” private boats that rescued thousands of British soldiers from the beaches of France after the German invasion in 1940 — a defeat that became a major victory for war morale.
Actor sorry for calling cricket a ‘gay’ sport
LOS ANGELES – Actor Jason Alexander has apologized for joking during a TV talk show that he considers cricket to be a “gay” sport.
In a blog post, the former “Seinfeld” star explained Sunday what led to his remark on CBS’ “Late Late Show.” He writes that he at first didn’t grasp why some might object to the comment, but that subsequent conversations with his gay friends led him to realize his insensitivity.
Alexander’s remarks came in Friday’s show, during which he told host Craig Ferguson that aspects of cricket make it a “gay game” compared to other sports.
The actor’s 1,000-word-plus “message of amends” said the joking remark plays into “hurtful assumptions and diminishments” about people.
— From news service reports