PortCities London

Royal celebration

Royal celebrations such as coronations or weddings often included displays of fireworks on the river.

Fireworks on the Thames Celebrating the Coronation of James II 1685, Willem Van de Velde the Elder

Fireworks on the Thames Celebrating the Coronation of James II 1685, Willem Van de Velde the Elder

Fireworks on the Thames Celebrating the Coronation of James II 1685, Willem Van de Velde the Elder

Fireworks on the Thames Celebrating the Coronation of James II 1685, Willem Van de Velde the Elder

One of a pair of pencil sketches commemorating the celebrations on the Thames surrounding the coronation of James II and Mary of Modena. James was crowned at Westminster on 23 April/3 May after a royal progression on the Thames from the palace at Whitehall. The next day a firework display was held in front of the palace. This drawing, made on several smaller pages joined together, is almost certainly an eye-witness account of the ceremony. On the right foreground there is a pontoon with figures holding fireworks and pilasters with the star of the Garter, a crown and the device JMR2 hanging between them. A crowd of yachts, barges and wherries on the Thames are arranged around the firework platform.

One of a pair of pencil sketches commemorating the celebrations on the Thames surrounding the coronation of James II and Mary of Modena. James was crowned at Westminster on 23 April/3 May after a royal progression on the Thames from the palace at Whitehall. The next day a firework display was held in front of the palace. This drawing, made on several smaller pages joined together, is almost certainly an eye-witness account of the ceremony. In the left foreground is a pontoon with figures holding fireworks and pilasters with the star of the Garter, a crown and the device JMR2 hanging between them. Yachts, barges and wherries are crowded on the Thames.
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A representation of the fire-works upon the River of Thames, over against Whitehall, at their Majesties Coronation Ao 1685

A representation of the fire-works upon the River of Thames, over against Whitehall, at their Majesties Coronation Ao 1685

Launch of HMS 'Royal Albert' 131 guns at Woolwich Dockyard, christened by HM The Queen 13 May 1854

Launch of HMS 'Royal Albert' 131 guns at Woolwich Dockyard, christened by HM The Queen 13 May 1854

A print commemorating the celebrations on the Thames surrounding the coronation of James II and Mary of Modena. A brilliant firework display was arranged on the banks of the Thames. The print shows figures, representing James, holding fireworks and pilasters with the star of the Garter, a crown and the device JMR2 hanging between them, on a pontoon. However lighting the first firework ignited the rest and so the whole display went up in one go by mistake. This caused mayhem among the onlookers, many of whom jumped into the river to escape the conflagration. Instead of showing this, the print concentrates on the splendour of the event and the symbolism signifying the new monarch.

A print showing royalty attending the launch ceremony of a ship on the Thames. The print shows the launch of the new propeller-driven steamer HMS 'Royal Albert' on 13 May 1854. Queen Victoria presided over her launching ceremony. This event occurred at a high point in the history of Woolwich dockyard which was to close in 1869. 'Royal Albert', a 121-gun three-decker steam line-of battle ship, was immediately sent to the Crimea where she saw active service in the Black Sea. Since monarchy are traditionally involved at launch ceremonies when a ship is named, the print commemorates Queen Victoria’s presence. Named after the queen’s husband, the 'Royal Albert' flies the royal standard. Loyal supporters in the small boats wave to endorse both their monarch and the building of another warship for the nation, during the Crimean War.
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Fireworks at Gravesend, 7 March 1874

Fireworks at Gravesend, 7 March 1874
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A chalk sketch of a spectacular firework display at Gravesend on 7 March 1874. This celebrated the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh at Gravesend after their marriage in St Petersburg. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was the second son of Queen Victoria who married her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia. The night sky is illuminated with the brilliance of the display and river and shipping at anchor is also lit up. The buildings of Gravesend and masts of the tall ships at anchor, are silhouetted against the night sky.
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