London: A Chinese junk, Venetian gondolas and a boat rowed by Olympic champions will be part of the 1,000-vessel flotilla on London's River Thames as part of a pageant to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee next month, organisers said on Thursday.
The queen, who is celebrating 60 years on the throne this year, will also be accompanied by a host of musicians playing everything from Bollywood songs to James Bond theme tunes when up to a million spectators gather along the Thames on June 3.
"This will be a historic event in the life of London and indeed the nation, really without parallel in scale and vision," Michael Lockett, chief executive of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation said at briefing in central London.
London mayor Boris Johnson was in Greece to collect the Olympic torch, but sent a video message saying he expected the flotilla to be "like Dunkirk except more successful", a reference to the evacuation of British troops from France during World War Two.
Olympic and Paralympic champions including five-time rowing gold medal winner Steve Redgrave will lead the flotilla in a vessel also manned by soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first Chinese junk to visit London since the Great Exhibition in 1851 will join the flotilla, as well as several gondolas, passenger ships, kayaks and lifeboats.
The flotilla will be over seven miles long and travel 25 miles of the Thames, passing every bridge in central London, some of which will be open to spectators.
The cost of the pageant will be about 10.5 million pounds and organisers are "virtually there" in reaching their target through private funding, said Lord Salisbury, former conservative politician and chairman of the Foundation.
The pageant's music will start with a peal of bells, followed by performances from a number of groups, including an ensemble that will play Bollywood tunes and Scottish songs on bagpipes.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra will tailor their repertoire depending on their location, playing the James Bond theme tune as they pass the headquarters of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence agency.
Last month a protester disrupted the globally televised annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race on the Thames. But organisers said they were confident of the flotilla security arrangements, with all 20,000 participants being vetted.
"The Metropolitan Police will be there to create the right atmosphere, policing in an unobtrusive but alert style," said Stephen Kavanagh, deputy assistant commissioner of London's police force.
More than 5,000 police officers and 7,000 of the Foundation's stewards will keep an eye out for any protests in the style of elitism protester Trenton Oldfield, who swam into the middle of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race course, forcing the crews to halt and then restart the race.
David Phillips, the chief harbourmaster of the Port of London Authority, said there would also be a safety lane along the length of the flotilla to ensure quick action in case of an accident.
"The object is this - it is to thank the Queen for 60 years hard labour," said Lord Salisbury. "She makes it look easy, and as anybody who has tried to do anything professional knows, that is an indication of being very good through much hard work."