Royal River trailer

Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames

Dates

Dates
Royal River was open 27 April–9 September 2012

Location:

Location:
National Maritime Museum

Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames

Magnificent gilded barges, liverymen in their finest uniforms, the splendour of lavish celebrations: the Thames is the ‘royal river’, used for centuries by British monarchs to involve the people in ceremony and festivities displaying their regal status. For hundreds of years this famous royal river has been host to the pageantry of coronations, processions of boats, and other events which helped tie people closer to the Crown and to London as Britain’s capital.

This spectacular exhibition, a landmark heritage event of the year, brought together nearly 400 beautiful, fascinating and often unique objects, including one of the largest-ever loans of Royal Collection objects to any museum. Created to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and guest-curated by David Starkey, Royal River presented the historic Thames in all its glory, from British royal and City events to London’s famous watermen, the annual royal swan upping ceremony and the river’s transformation after the notorious ‘Great Stink’.

Watch or listen to two special Royal River compositions by Trinity Laban music students

What's on show

  • Detail from ‘The Thames on Lord Mayor’s Day, looking towards the City and St Paul’s Cathedral’, before 1752, Canaletto
    Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames
    The Lobkowicz Collections, Czech Republic
  • Armour of Sir John Smythe, about 1585, on display in Royal River
    Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames
    Courtesy of the Royal Armouries, lent by kind permission of Her Majesty The Queen<BR/>
  • Anne Boleyn&amp;#39;s Book of Hours, early 16th century (detail)
    Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames
    © British Library Board, Kings MS. 9<BR/>
  • Monster Soup commonly called Thames Water..., 1828 (detail)
    Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames
    © Wellcome Library, London<BR/><BR/>
  • View of the Fire-works and Illumonations at his Grace the Duke of Richmond&amp;#39;s at White-hall..., 1749 (detail)
    Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames
    © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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Location spotlight

Sammy Ofer Wing entrance (spotlight 1)