Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating the 60th anniversary of her reign, will be the occasion for several official events in the British capital and public festivities throughout the country.
France will be present on 3 June in the form of the tall ship the Belem, which will take part in the Thames Pageant, the most emblematic event of the Jubilee ceremonies.
On 31 May, the Prince of Wales, who will be overseeing the Pageant rehearsals, will be welcomed aboard by the French Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
The arrival of the Belem, which flew a British flag from 1914 to 1950, is of strong symbolic value for our relationship with the UK. The ship’s owners included, from 1914 to 1920, the Duke of Westminster, a member of the British royal family, who thus helped save a highly emblematic French vessel at a time when sailing ships were disappearing from the merchant navy. Put out of commission in Cowes Harbour on the Isle of Wight in 1939, she was used for a time as the headquarters of the Free French Forces’ speedboat section.
The ship, built in Nantes in 1896 and classified as a historic monument in 1984, today belongs to the Fondation Belem, whose sponsor is the Caisse d’Epargne./.