Cloud Cover:75 %
Hey, Soul Sister
Like A Prayer
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Maev Kennedy, Sunday 3rd June 2012 16:07
At 13.31 there was a fanfare of trumpets, and on BBC1 Huw Edwards, perched beside a slightly random bowl of white roses and closed lilies, solemnly intoned: "Welcome to the official start of the diamond jubilee events" – merrily ignoring the fact that the Queen probably thought it had all been going on for 37 hours already, and that scores of his unfortunate colleagues, staked like sacrificial victims along the banks of the Thames, had been wittering damply all through the night and into the sodden dawn.
Half an hour later he revised his estimate upwards: "When we hear those bells, that will mark the start of the proceedings."
At 9.30am, with absolutely nothing proceeding, Sky News had cut live to Eamonn Holmes, on the dripping riverbank near Tower Bridge.
"Caught me short there," he said, with a rabbit in the headlights shocked glare to camera. "There's some sort of barge going past," he continued falteringly, with a panic-stricken look over his shoulder at the grey river. "There's a bit of steam, horns going off ... It's some sort of river boat, well, that just about sums it up."
It was raining in Leeds, it was pouring on Anglesey where the BBC had taken over somebody's conservatory, it was raining on Westminster Bridge, it was raining on Tower Bridge, it was raining in Putney, it was pouring on Albert Bridge where a small boy in a union flag hat and bin bag was left momentarily speechless when asked by Sky: "What do you think is so great about today?"
At 1.20pm Nicholas Witchell announced: "The most important piece of news to report is that the rain is easing off."
At last, at 14.02 something did happen: a big black car drew up on the riverbank at Chelsea, where in a shocking lapse from the pomp of the day Charles and Camilla had to walk across 10ft of concrete before reaching the red carpet, followed by William, and Kate in red – matching the carpet so precisely a trip could be fatal – and finally the Queen and Prince Philip, festooned in such an array of medals he very nearly ran out of chest.
"She looks so happy," the BBC said. "Such a happy smile," Sky agreed. But really it was the TV crews which were burblingly, ecstatically happy, more things happening around them – the bells, the gondolas, the shrubbery on the deck of the Spirit of Chartwell, the Maori war canoe, Boris Johnson waving regally – than they had time, or in the case of Chris Hollins mouthing silently into the wind, microphone to talk about.
"It's a family outing and it's marvellous that we're all able to join them on a family occasion," former royal correspondent Wesley Kerr insisted.
The Spirit of Chartwell pulled out into the stream, "strongly designed in purple red and gold to make this the absolute apple ..." said the Sky commentator, faltering suddenly "at the centre of this event".
Upon Westminster Bridge earth had not anything to show more fair than former political correspondent John Sergeant under the windows of his old manor, with the actor Richard E Grant in union tie, socks, and – as Sergeant tugging at his waistband threatened to show us – underpants. Grant, at what the Queen was unfortunately too far upstream to hear, read the Wordsworth poem most beautifully from his union flag iPad.
But what, remind us, was the weather doing?
"Oh for some sunshine, some rays of sunshine to bounce off that gold gilt that is the barge," sighed Eamonn Holmes.