LONDON -- No one capsized or crashed or collapsed -- although one exhausted rower had to be towed to shore -- as an historic flotilla of more than a thousand boats floated down the Thames today to celebrate the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
The watery parade -- the largest on record -- was the high-water mark of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee's celebrations from June 2 to June 5.
Dressed in silver and white, the queen was joined on her own royal barge, "The Spirit of Chartwell," by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and her son, the Prince of Wales, who along with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, attended a special Jubilee lunch at London's Piccadilly Circus earlier where they were thronged by well-wishers.
Raw video: Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Barge
The Royal Barge, containing Elizabeth II and family, moves under London Bridge at the end of the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla this afternoon. The armada of more than a thousand boats sailed down the Thames River. (Video by Mackenzie Carpenter; 6/3/2012)
Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (who wore a vivid red Alexander McQueen dress) also waved to onlookers as the enormous barge made its way down the river.
The Queen's boat did not lead the flotilla, but was preceded by hundreds of "man-powered" vessels -- dragon boats, skiffs, canoes and gondolas -- chosen to represent various cultural, historical and human achievements. One boat, the Worcester Busters, was rowed by survivors of breast cancer, while another -- the Te Hono ki Aotearoa from New Zealand -- was rowed by those in Maori dress.
Despite pelting rain and chilly breezes, a crowd estimated at more than a million turned out, forcing police to close access to the riverfront.
The flotilla followed a 7-mile route down the river, under 13 central river crossings, anchoring just past Tower Bridge, whose gates opened to honor the queen.
The Jubilee festivities continue Monday with a concert at Buckingham Palace and conclude Tuesday with a National Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral.
Mackenzie Carpenter: firstname.lastname@example.org. More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. First Published June 3, 2012 5:00 AM