What the last Queen and Monarch got for her Diamond Jubilee and what will our dear Queen get for hers?

I am sure that many of you will agree with me that the Royal Navy has been cheated, yes, cheated, out of showing its love and affection for our Royal Family and its deep respect for our Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in the traditional British naval manner, namely by having a Fleet Review at Spithead. It is not only a 'slap in the face' for our Royal Navy but also a bad advert internationally for the present state of our country.  How is it possible that nothing is to be done in the traditional naval way [excluding what might happen in the City of Portsmouth and other naval ports organised by the civic authorities] and that we have arrived at such a low ebb compared with previous times, and specifically with the time of June 26th 1897?

Royal Diamond Jubilee's are an enormous part of British history, they being so rare an event and almost unique. King George III missed his Diamond Jubilee by just five months, so the very first one was that celebrated by Queen Victoria.  Queen Elizabeth is the second Monarch to do so, but it has to be said that she has been an infinitely better Queen in all respects than was Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth has served us all throughout every day of her long reign, but Queen Victoria was the Queen in name only for many a long year after her husband's death.  Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years and 7 months, and I sincerely hope that come the 6/7th September 2015, when our Queen will have out-reigned her, Britain goes wild and celebrates properly with a jumbo sized naval review inter alia.  Who knows, the new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth might just be ready for its first ceremony?........yes, and pigs might fly!

God willing, there is one very big difference between June 2012 and June 1897, and that is that our dear Queen is well and healthy and eager for the nation and the Commonwealth to get involved in the celebrations for her long reign [with much more to come hopefully] whereas Queen Victoria was ill and very frail and did not take part in many of the celebrations including the Fleet Review at Spithead.

The Fleet Review of the 26th June 1897 took place at Spithead. Several other venues were used for Reviews in the 19th and 20th centuries chiefly at Torbay, Lyme Bay, Falmouth and Pembrokeshire [Milford Haven] - the Review of the 'Surface Fleet' to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic with Admirals of the Fleet HM The King of Norway and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh embarked in HMY Britannia was in 1993 off Moelfre, Anglesey, North Wales.  The Flag Officer Surface Fleet [FOSF] [Rear Admiral Boyce] flew his Flag in the frigate HMS Cornwall. The Prince of Wales [later King Edward VII] took the salute in the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert No 2 [there were three Royal Yacht's with this name] because his mother was too ill/frail to attend. It was widely photographed and actually filmed, and the NMM at Greenwich has a wonderful collection of 'bought-in' material from various sources, one of which is the Cribb Collection {photographed by Mr Stephen Cribb and purchased from a Mr G Pulham}, which has the 19th century moving images film.

This is a picture of the Victoria and Albert No2 during the Diamond Jubilee Review

The review, had mustered 136 ships most of them British and was used as a show of strength as much as it was a show of loyalty to the Crown.  Within two years many of these ships would be engaged in the Second Boer War [1899-1902 - the First being 1880-1881] and would be away from the country when the old Queen died.

This below is a depiction of the lines of ships

It was boasted the greatest assembly  of warships ever gathered at an anchorage *.  The hardware on show - formidable iron-clads cluttered with barbettes and bristling with turret guns - demonstrated to the world that the Empire was invincible and its will could be imposed.  Jane's Fighting Ships, published for the first time in this year, confirmed that the Queen's Empire had 53 iron-clads and armoured cruisers, 21 more than the nearest rival, France.  The foreign press and heads of state, together with patriotic crowds who lined Southsea Beach, Stokes Bay and the shores of the Isle of Wight, were awed by the spectacle.  We showed that our sovereignty over the sea is far reaching and absolute....In all, about 165 ships of our own navy rode at ease in four long lines and two shorter ones in the narrow straits, and they were manned by 40,000 officers and men.  The length of the lines of British ships aggregated nearly 30 miles.....Power is still sweet to the ruling race; that the Empire which has been bought with the blood of the Anglo-Saxons will be maintained in its integrity at any cost.  Here they lay in serried ranks on the moving water, orderly as soldiers on a parade ground - the steel-clad champions of a nation's honour - as powerful to compel peace as to put the issue of war out of the question if war must come.  The Review provided a sublime spectacle for our Colonial and foreign visitors, and it taught a lesson that was meant to be learned by the whole world, and was actually so learned.  A great military Power we might not be, but on the seas our dominion was, and must ever be, unquestionable.

* The claim of course was to be short lived and it was shunted into second place by the Spithead Review of 1914.  However, take note of pages 21, 23 and 25 in the 1953 Coronation Review Matrix below, where a quick count reveals no fewer than 210 vessels being Reviewed, honouring our Queen and our Nation. The Coronation Review of 1953 has never been surpassed as the largest assembly of ships ever gathered at anchorage.

Then all of a sudden, the assembled ships were lost to the crowds as a sudden thunderstorm drenched everybody and everything, but in any event, several noteworthy newspaper's said that the presence of the tiny 'Turbina', the very first turbine-propelled ship, stole the show. I personally would doubt that - big powerful ships can't fail but to excite!


what, as a nation, are we going to give to our Queen , the best person any country has ever had, and the ultimate super star, who in her day, had all the glamour associated with that role.

We are going to give her a boat ride on the River Thames, her boat to be followed by [or escorted by] 999 other small boats {the event is billed as a 1000 boat parade}, and we are going to call it...wait for it....a SAIL PAST!, and this is the route of the proposed pageant

   Well it's London, so they get a tick for that, and its our dear old Old Father Thames so another tick for that, and I understand that she will travel in a "Royal Barge" so a third tick. That's your lot though, other than to remind you that it takes place on Sunday 3rd June 2012 so let us all hope for good weather. My wife and I will be there as devout royalists but only because the anchorages out at Spithead will be empty, completely empty, and that is a bloody shame not to mention an insult!  Whilst no doubt the 'boat parade' will have many boats representing the good and the genuine in the land {just as we would expect to see them in a street parade} it will also have many 'gin-palaces', commercial City organisations, 'spear carriers'/social hangers-on' and those bringing up the rear who either, like ourselves love the Queen, or, and I don't begrudge them, are just out for a nice day afloat. Finally, don't be taken-aback by the firework display on that evening.  It will be absolutely wonderful I am sure - isn't it always in London? - but even that pales into insignificance when comparing it with a Spithead fireworks display accompanied by a Fleet Illumination.


little people like me and you can do nothing about putting things right - we know that, because we have no real democracy, no say in what our Government debates in the House or enshrines into our legislation.  Your canvassing would-be MP at election time will tell you that your idea is a good one and that he or she will bring it up in Parliament, but as soon as they arrive at Westminster, they go through an induction period where the Chief Whip of their party reminds them to clear their heads of the rubbish gathered whilst out canvassing, and that taking the 'Party Whip' is their number one duty - notwithstanding!  Where, therefore, does the democracy bit come in?

However, what I can do is to remind you of the splendid Fleet Review we gave her as a young Queen back on the 15th June 1953.  Try to think that this is what she would have got in June 2012 embarked in the Royal Yacht Britannia [currently listing with a flooded compartment up in Edinburgh as I write this page] were it not for politicians, and that goes for both Houses. To you officers, men and women, serving in today's Royal Navy, I salute you and I am embarrassed for you.  Keep up the good work and the standards we passed on to you which we inherited from those who went before us. Rule Britannia.

Almost as a post script, is this story about the admirals {the Flag Officers} controlling the Royal Navy from 1936 to the start of WW2 in 1939.

During this period, the Coronation Fleet Review before this one, namely that of 1937, originally planned for King Edward VIII but executed for King George VI after the formers abdication, took place.  Admiral Sir William Wordsworth Fisher hoisted his Flag as C-in-C Portsmouth on the 7th July 1936 and it was his job to organise the Fleet Review; he was 61 years of age. For reasons which are not divulged, the planning for the Review played upon his health and they "overburdened" him to the point of exhaustion and fatigue. In 1937, whilst taking the salute for the Kings Birthday Parade on Southsea Common he collapsed and died and was buried at sea. In that same year, Admiral Blake retired in the December;  Admiral Ramsay was retired in the October of 1936; in 1939 Admiral Henderson took ill and died in May; Admiral of the Fleet Backhouse died in July and Admiral Somerville retired on medical grounds. There were grave concerns that these deaths had revealed a dearth of Flag Officers of proven merit, and war was only two months away. They resolved the crisis by bringing C-in-C Mediterranean  Admiral Sir Dudley Pound back to the UK as the First Sea Lord vice Admiral of the Fleet Backhouse and sending Admiral Andrew Browne Cunningham to the Mediterranean, whilst at the same time bringing back Admirals Somerville and Ramsay from retirement onto the active list.  All proved their worth as brilliant Commanders as well as proving that the navy was, as always, a versatile force which always met its commitments no matter what.

Just in case you are wondering, no, I haven't forgotten the Coronation Fleet Review file - it's at the end.

I have sent a copy to Her Majesty just to remind her that her navy is as loyal as ever - it is just that the politicians are worse than ever before, and that's a bloody great pity. Still, I am sure that she already knows that!  What we want is a few more Navy Ministers like Keith SPEED MP., who you will recall spoke out publically against the proposed cuts of the navy in 1981 in Mrs Thatcher's Government.  The 'Iron Lady' publically sacked him, but like Cameron and Clegg, she knew full well that Keith was right, for it is criminally wrong to reduce our navy down to that of a second-world nation. 

This is a picture of the admirals running the navy under the banner of 'Ministry of Defence Royal Navy' and formerly until 1964 the Admiralty Board, in 1981 just before the Falklands War. Counting from the civil servant sitting underneath the right hand edge of the picture and moving anti-clockwise, Keith Speed is number four sitting in the big chair with arms [armchair, which the poor old First Sea Lord doesn't have]. The five admirals on the Board are:-

No 5 - Admiral Sir Henry Leach First Sea Lord
No6 - Vice Admiral William Staveley Vice Chief Naval Staff
No 7 - Vice Admiral Sir William Pillar Chief of Fleet Support
No 8 - Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse Controller of the Navy
No 9 - Admiral Sir Desmond Cassidi Second Sea Lord


Moreover, simply because the BBC News of the 18th January 2012 coincides with me writing this page, I note that Cameron is looking at our "military options" to stem or combat the rising claims of Argentina on the Falkland Islands. For God's sake, we have no maritime air power, and even with it, in 1982, we came away with four of our warships lost {Antelope, Ardent, Coventry, Sheffield}, some damaged/badly damaged {Antrim, Argonaut, Brilliant, Broadsword, Glasgow, Glamorgan, Plymouth}, the Atlantic Conveyor sunk and RFA's badly mauled {Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram - the former sunk by HM S/M Onyx out at sea several days after the attack, and the latter salvaged}, so what the hell would the Argentine Air Force do the next time we attempt to defend our territory?

As Her Majesty will forever be remember in the annals of history and in our hearts for her goodness and service to her many peoples, then so will our politicians, students and devotees of Sir Eric Geddes and his infamous "Geddes Axe", be forever blighted with eternal obloguy. Amen

Finally, the file, The_Queens_1953_Coronation_Fleet_Review_at_Spithead.html in all its splendour. To you my young friends serving today, this is the navy I joined in 1953, the largest ever gathering of warships, there to salute our lovely Lady Sovereign, heralded as still today over 60+ years on, the world's most famous person!  What an accolade?

Yours aye.

Good luck to you all and thanks for carrying on the traditions of the Royal Navy. Pity that our Government doesn't see it that way!