For many centuries the Thames was the principle thoroughfare through London. The Thames estuary was also London’s main gateway to and from Europe, linking the capital city with the rest of the world. It was also the arrival and departure point for royalty who frequently intermarried with the royal households of Europe.
Throughout the centuries the Thames was also the setting for numerous ceremonial events, particularly royal occasions, such as arrivals, departures, visits, coronations, marriages, funerals, processions and pageantry. Sovereigns travelled on the Thames in elaborately decorated royal yachts, barges and shallops. This tradition was centuries old and even in 1214 King John travelled to the signing of Magna Carta, near Runnymede in a royal shallop. Royal processions on the Thames often involved music and royal celebrations such as coronations or weddings had displays of fireworks. In 1717 George I progressed in the royal barge along the Thames from Whit