PortCities London

Arrivals and departures

Throughout the centuries the Thames was the setting for numerous royal ceremonial occasions such as arrivals, departures, visits, coronations, marriages, funerals, processions and pageantry.

Reception of Her Royal Highness - the Princesse of Orange as queene of great Brittain.

Reception of Her Royal Highness - the Princesse of Orange as queene of great Brittain.

A Royal Yacht at Greenwich

A Royal Yacht at Greenwich

An etching commemorating a royal arrival. It shows Mary, elder daughter of the Duke of York, landing in England to become queen. Mary was married to William of Orange and she and William, both Protestants, were invited to England to assume the throne. Mary left Holland for good to follow her husband to England on 22 February 1689, accompanied by the ships 'Vrede', 'Katherine', 'Isabella', 'Mary' and 'Anne'. William and Mary were crowned King and Queen of England in Westminster Abbey on 21 April 1689. This important print of the apotheosis of William and Mary, features some of the main events leading up to their coronation in a continuous narrative. At the top are the ships that brought them to England, together with Mary’s symbolic arrival as queen. The celebratory nature of the print shows Mary landing amid cannon salutes, trumpets and an admiring crowd bending down before her. As a glorification of Mary’s joint reign with her husband William it is also a celebration of the Protestant faith. Numbers refer to a key of the principle characters and actions. The print is one of a series made by de Hooge to celebrate this momentous event.

An imaginary painting showing three royal yachts at anchor on the north side of the River Thames, near the Isle of Dogs. Greenwich, a station for royal yachts, can be seen on the opposite bank. The King Charles block is on the right, with only one dome built at the time of the painting. Other buildings on the south bank include Crowley House and Trinity Hospital on the left. A man and woman can be seen at the windows of the stern cabin of the yacht left of centre, which is firing a salute. Since the yacht is flying the royal standard, the couple may be Queen Anne and her husband George of Denmark. Anne, the second daughter of James II, married George in 1683 and she came to the throne following the death of her sister Mary’s husband William. The stern is elaborately carved with the royal coat of arms and the whole yacht proclaims status and power. There are a number of sailors in the rigging. In the middle distance on the right a ceremonial barge is moving perhaps towards the yacht. The yacht on the left, decorated with an ornately carved lion figurehead, has just anchored and figures on deck wave in the direction of the central yacht. The royal yacht on the right could be either 'William and Mary' or 'Fubbs II'. The ship in mid river is sailing towards London. Although the scene undoubtedly links monarchy, River Thames and Greenwich buildings, there are no waving cheering crowds. The only witnesses to the scene are the cows positioned close to the water’s edge and a worker resting on his stick. They appear in marked contrast to the elegant couple walking close by and to the luxurious yachts.
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The Arrival of Her Majesty, HRH Prince Albert, and suite, at Woolwich, on Board the General Steam Navigation Company's Ship 'Trident' on the Return of the Royal Visit from Scotland, 1842

The Arrival of Her Majesty, HRH Prince Albert, and suite, at Woolwich, on Board the General Steam Navigation Company's Ship 'Trident' on the Return of the Royal Visit from Scotland, 1842

The Embarkation at Gravesend of their Royal Highnesses the Prince & Princess Frederick William of Prussia, 2 February 1858 in her Majesty’s State Yacht 'Victoria and Albert', Tuesday 2 February 1858

The Embarkation at Gravesend of their Royal Highnesses the Prince & Princess Frederick William of Prussia, 2 February 1858 in her Majesty’s State Yacht 'Victoria and Albert', Tuesday 2 February 1858

The print celebrates the return of Queen Victoria from Edinburgh to London, 17 September 1842. Queen Victoria, reportedly wearing a pink bonnet and blue mantle, and her husband Prince Albert, stand under the awning on the deck of the ‘Trident’. They journeyed to Scotland on the ‘Royal George’, which was the last royal yacht to use sail. When on the three-day voyage on board the ‘Royal George’ the yacht was outpaced by paddle steamers, the queen refused to use the ‘Royal George’ again and so she returned to London on the ‘Trident’. The buildings of Woolwich Dockyard can be seen in the distance on the right. Two ships of the escort are shown on the left. There is a City of London barge in the lower left corner. A number of paintings by the artist William Huggins were engraved, like this one, by his son-in-law Edward Duncan. The artist William Huggins dedicated this print to Queen Victoria.

A print showing a royal departure, as the royal yacht ‘Victoria and Albert’ sets sail with the Prince and Princess Frederick William of Prussia on board. They embarked from the Terrace Pier at Gravesend on Tuesday 2 February following their marriage at Windsor on 25 January 1858. The princess, Victoria, was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. At Gravesend she was seen waved off by Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred and the Duke of Cambridge, who all returned to London by train. For the royal departure, the pier was decorated and lined with officials and people in tiered seats. The walls were decorated with white banners. At the end of the pier was a banner with the word Adieu spelt in variegated flowers and stretched across the end of the pier. The weather was described as a ‘dull haze of falling snow’. The print shows the royal flotilla with coloured bunting and in the foreground small boats full of people wave farewell to the departing princess. Cheers were also heard from the shore and the guns of Tilbury Fort, opposite Gravesend, thundered a royal salute. After the departure there was an extensive fireworks display and immense bonfire on Windmill Hill, Gravesend.
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Steam vessels dressed overall at 11 o'clock near the harbour buidlings, Royal visit to Gravesend, 7 March 1874

Steam vessels dressed overall at 11 o'clock near the harbour buidlings, Royal visit to Gravesend, 7 March 1874
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A pencil sketch showing a royal arrival, when the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh landed at Gravesend on 7 March 1874, after their marriage in January. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was the second son of Queen Victoria who married her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia, at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg. The Terrace Pier, Gravesend is shown on the left with three warships manned yards and dressed behind. The royal yacht ‘Victoria and Albert’, is shown in the centre of the drawing, flying the English and Russian flags. She was escorted by three naval ships, ‘Penelope’, ‘Audacious’ and ‘Duncan’. The pier was richly decorated with draperies scarlet cloth hung with gold lace and conspicuous along the front of the roofing of the pier was the word ‘Welcome’ in gold braid letters. The royal couple arrived at Gravesend in a grey mist, but also to cheers and salutes. They disembarked at the pier, witnessed only by an audience of ticket holders. Flowers were strewn in their path as they processed along the pier. They then went by train to Windsor via Waterloo. This event echoes the arrival eleven years earlier of Princess Alexandra of Denmark when she also arrived at Gravesend on 7 March 1863, to marry the Prince of Wales.
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