IT was a moment in history – and the people of Hampshire played their own special part in it.
Not in the last 350 years had the country witnessed a sight like it.
As an estimated 1.25 million rain soaked revellers lined the banks of the Thames and millions more around the world watched on television sailors and boats from the county joined 1,000 others for the spectacular Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
One of those taking part was Southampton-based Tenacious, a tall ship which gives disabled and able-bodied people the chance to sail, and its crew found themselves with one of the best seats in town.
For the Jubilee Sailing Trust tall ship was moored opposite the Tower Bridge in the so called “Avenue of Sail”.
They were directly opposite the Queen and other members of the royal family aboard red and gold barge The Sprit of Chartwell.
Disabled sailor Andy Spark, 45, from Woolston, was aboard.
He said: “The whole thing was a really emotional event to be at.“ There is no-one living who will probably see another Diamond Jubilee event like this.
“It did make me feel so proud to be involved in such a stupendous event like this, to be part of an event that the whole world was watching.
“It was something very special and there was definitely a wow factor.
“And we were directly opposite Her Majesty, who apart from us had the best view in town.”
The 200ft ship was the tallest ship to be moored in the capital as hundreds of craft, including Dunkirk’s little ships, tugs, steamers, pleasure cruisers, dragon boats and kayaks in one of the highlights of the Jubilee weekend.
Andy added: “I think Britain is the only place in the world where you would see a barge float past with a full set of church bells aboard.”
Before the monarch moored to review the flotilla she sailed down the River Thames, past HMS Belfast where Hampshire war veteran Allan Beer was proudly standing to attention.
The 86-year-old served aboard the ship when it took part in the Arctic Convoys and on D-Day said he would not have missed the day for anything.
He said: “Although we were all soaked to the skin, we all raised our hats and gave three cheers for her Majesty. It was wonderful.”
Romsey Sea Cadet James Mellor, 14, from Chandler’s Ford, said: “The atmosphere was amazing. It will stay with me for the rest of my life, I will never forget it – seeing the Queen, William and Kate and all the flags.”
Historic ships such as the Beaulieu-based Bantry Bay gig Integrite, which was one of the first wave of ships, also took part in the flotilla.
Our sailors who are based at Fareham’s HMS Collingwood greeted the Royal party on to the ship HMS President to watch the majestic scenes.