Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames, Sponsored by Barclays

David Starkey to Guest Curate a Major New Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum on the Occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Royal River web banner The National Maritime Museum today (8 June 2011) announces Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames, sponsored by Barclays – a major new exhibition for summer 2012. Guest curated by David Starkey, the exhibition runs from 26 April next year and will be open to the public throughout the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, of which Greenwich Park is a venue.

Celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the National Maritime Museum’s 75th anniversary, Royal River explores the relationship between the monarch, the City and the people as it was brought to life on the Thames – London’s greatest thoroughfare. From London’s birth, royalty have looked to the Thames to display their power, patronage and pageantry to a city and a people intimately and inextricably connected to the water.

Taking in the palaces, processions, parties and promenades that made the London we know today the exhibition brings together a wealth of paintings, manuscripts and rare and beautiful objects. Highlights include 49 items generously lent by the Royal Collection, many of which are on display for the first time.

The exhibition comprises over 250 items on loan from museums, galleries and private collections across Europe as well as an array of objects drawn from the National Maritime Museum’s rich collections. Among the items selected for the exhibition are Handel’s autographed score for the Music for the Royal Fireworks (British Library), the magnificent stern carvings from the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert III and a remarkable collection of artworks by Canaletto.

Bob Diamond, Chief Executive, Barclays Bank PLC, said: ‘I am delighted Barclays is sponsoring Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames at the National Maritime Museum. The museum has always exhibited on topics of Britain and the sea, showing the contemporary significance of maritime events and the stories of this island nation. Royal River is a fitting way for the National Maritime Museum to celebrate its 75th anniversary and Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.’

Guest curator David Starkey said: ‘The exhibition brings to life the extraordinary and varied history of the Thames as Britain’s royal river. This grand street through the heart of London has been a stage for the power and pageantry of key events in British history. Many of the more than 350 objects to be shown in Greenwich have never been displayed before. Together, they provide a visual feast, highlighting both the drama and magnificence of river celebrations and the fascinating and unexpected stories of Thames people.’

Lord Sterling, Chairman of the National Maritime Museum said: ‘2012 will be a remarkable year. In addition to the momentous occasion of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Greenwich will become London’s new Royal Borough and a major venue for the 2012 Games. Royal River will be the first major exhibition in the Museum’s new Sammy Ofer Wing in 2012. It gives us great pleasure that this exhibition has been sponsored by a great British bank, Barclays. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of the National Maritime Museum. On 27 April 1937 the 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth attended the opening ceremony as a birthday treat, beginning an enduring Royal association with the museum. This association has continued with support from His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh who has been both a Museum Trustee and Patron for 63 years’

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Exhibition information for visitors

Venue: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Dates: 26 April – 9 September 2012
Opening times: daily, 10.00 – 17.00 (closed 25-26 December)
Visitor enquiries: Tel: 020 8312 6565

Notes to Editors

  • The National Maritime Museum holds the world’s largest maritime collection. It is housed in historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It incorporates the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and 17th-century Queen’s House. The Museum works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. The Museum welcomes over 1.5 million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. For more information visit
  • Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth management with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs nearly 147,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for 48 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website
  • One of Britain’s leading historians, David Starkey is well known for his television work which includes Elizabeth, Six Wives of Henry VIII, Monarchy, and Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant (all Channel 4); as well as his bestselling books including Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, Henry: Virtuous Prince, his most recent Crown and Country, and Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne, which won 2001’s W. H. Smith Prize for biography and autobiography. David Starkey has guest curated two previous exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum: ‘Henry VIII at Greenwich’ in l991 and 2003’s ‘Elizabeth’; as well as ‘Making History’ (2007), at the Royal Academy and ‘Henry VIII: Man and Monarch’ (2009), at the British Library. Starkey is an Honorary Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries of London and winner of the Norton Medlicott Medal for Services to History presented by the Historical Association. He was appointed CBE in 2007 and lives in London and Kent.

For further information or images, please contact:
Sheryl Twigg or Jenny Stewart
National Maritime Museum Press Office
Tel: 020 8312 6790/6732 | 07903 547 284 or Email: