Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, oars





Lord Sterling has a long connection and great experience in the maritime history of Britain, and London in particular. He is Chairman of the Royal Museums Greenwich and of the Cutty Sark Trust, and was formerly Executive Chairman of P&O Steam Navigation Company and is now Life President of P&O Cruises and Chairman of Swan Hellenic. He holds the rank of Hon. Rear Admiral in the Royal Naval Reserve, ran the London celebrations for the Silver Jubilee, and was Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Lord Sterling is also Chairman and co-founder of Motability, which provides cars for disabled people.


Her Majesty The Queen named the Royal Rowbarge Gloriana as a lasting legacy to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Her Majesty has asked that Gloriana be retained by Lord Sterling and the Maritime Heritage Trust with assistance from Thames Alive and has approved the principle that Gloriana will be used to promote better use of the Thames. This can be achieved through providing opportunities for Royal-supported, and other charities, to play their part in occasions and celebrations upon the Thames, with a particular emphasis on events involving young people.



Gloriana The Queen’s Rowbarge is a lasting legacy of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Her immediate realm is the River Thames and London, but Gloriana also celebrates the Commonwealth, which delivers a truly international dimension to her presence. The crests of 16 Commonwealth countries adorn the outside of the coach.


Gloriana is an inspiration for national pride, a showcase for traditional British boatbuilding and craftsmanship, and a means of encouraging people, especially young people, to engage with the River Thames and the sport of rowing.


Gloriana The Queen’s Rowbarge has been funded privately. Lord Sterling, who initiated the building of Gloriana, underwrote more than £1 million of her cost and Eyal Ofer, The Gosling Foundation, The Weston Foundation and Lloyds Register contributed the remaining £500,000. Some items and décor were generously donated over and above these sums. She will also be maintained privately.


Over and above these figures it is with great pleasure that we recognise the work and support provided by:


• Calvers & Gilders Ltd

• Capital Pleasure Boats Ltd

• Cushman &Wakefield

• George Smith Ltd

• Hare & Humphreys Ltd

• Lloyds Register

• Polygon Scenery Ltd

• Royal Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc

• Segro plc

• Thames Clippers Ltd

• The Rug Company

• Watts 1874

• Woods’ Silver Fleet Ltd


The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was the catalyst for a number of like-minded people to think about how the River Thames and rowing could be harnessed for the celebrations, echoing the great Royal river occasions and pageants of the past. This led to Lord Sterling’s initiative to build an elegant rowbarge that would be both large enough to have visual impact on the Thames and more significantly be a lasting legacy of the Jubilee.


With Her Majesty The Queen’s approval The Queen’s Rowbarge was born and named Gloriana.




Stuart Roy

Naval architect and consultant


Ed Burnett

Naval architect and consultant


Damien Byrne MVO

Project Manager, Byrne Longshore Co Ltd


Mark Edwards MBE

Master Boat Builder, Richmond Bridge Boatbuilders


Tyrone Marlow

Boat builder, Richmond


David Robins

Engineering Manager, T. Nielsen & Company Limited


St John Bickley

Goodwolfe Energy


J Sutton Ltd

Traditional Oar and Skull makers


The team working with Lord Sterling on the project consisted of naval architects Stuart Roy and Ed Burnett, project manager Damian Byrne, and master boatbuilder Mark Edwards, one of the country’s foremost builders of traditional wooden boats. These traditions have their origin in Viking boat construction and subsequently the design and build of Royal and state rowbarges of the 17th and 18th Centuries.


The project team worked closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Lloyds’ Register for nearly six months to finalise the design. Their expert advice and support regarding the safety and seaworthiness of the finished vessel was invaluable. A great amount of research was also carried out by Simon Stephens, a curator at the National Maritime Museum, into the design, operational and social use of these great barges during their history.


Mark Edwards assembled a highly-skilled team of craftsmen to build the hull and the coach in what was then a secret location in Brentford and then moved to Isleworth, West London, where she was launched in April 2012.  Nothing of this nature or on this scale had been undertaken for more than 200 years. Moreover, the build had to be accomplished in a very short period of time.


Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge Rampant Lion detail, qrb, QRB
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge - Royal Crest, qrb, QRB
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, Queen Elizabeth, qrb, QRB
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge cabin, column capital detail, Hare & Humphreys, London, qrb, QRB


Lord Sterling, Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, qrb, QRB

In just 48 hours Cushman and Wakefield identified an ideal industrial unit owned by Segro who most generously provided the space in which the rowbarge was built at no cost. British Telecom set up communications for the site in under 24 hours. Gloriana was built in less than 19 weeks by a team of over 60 craftsmen including young people from the Prince’s Trust who worked on the project for experience and training.


Commenting on the project, five-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave said, “I visited the yard where the rowbarge is being constructed, and was captivated not just by the beautiful lines of this magnificent vessel, but by the infectious energy and enthusiasm of the young team working to build it. Speaking for myself, I can’t wait to have a go at rowing it!”

Additional support for the project was widespread, but special thanks are due to David Crosswell of Polygon Scenery Ltd who sculpted the baroque decorations, Peter Hare of Hare & Humphreys who together with Christine Palmer of Calvers & Gilders applied the gilding. Other members of Hare & Humphreys undertook the major part of the artistic painting and decoration of the superstructure and interior of the coach. Working with Kate Woods of Woods Silver Fleet, the soft furnishings were made by Watts 1874 and The Rug Company provided the hand-made carpet for the coach. The elegant oars were made by Sutton and the blades were decorated by Hare & Humphreys.


Throughout Brunswick Group has handled the media and public relations, notably by Will Carnforth and Ben Fry.

Barry Lowenhoff of Lowenhoff Design created this website. Peter Warwick and Malcolm Knight of Thames Alive have been closely involved throughout.

The 18-oared rowbarge is inspired by Thames ceremonial rowbarges from the 18th century. It has a salon, or coach, and fine Regency-style decoration fully gilded in gold leaf and includes 16 crests representing the Realms of the Commonwealth. Gloriana is an all wood structure, using British oak, iroko, sweet chestnut and full Lloyd’s Register marine plywood. Modern techniques have been used for durability and low maintenance.


Gloriana The Queen’s Rowbarge is 88ft. long and 11ft. wide. The coach interior is 20 ft. by 10ft. 6in. with a clear headroom of 7ft. Overall the vessel weighs 9 UK tons light ship condition.  She is wheel chair friendly.



Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, stern view, qrb, QRB
Hare & Humphries decorating Gloriana QRB

Her metric details are as follows:

• Length overall: 26900mm

• Beam max: 3400mm

• Air draft min: 3000mm (from load light ship waterline to top of transom)

• Air draft ex flagpoles: 3850mm

• Air draft with flag poles: 6950mm

• Draft from datum waterline to underside of keel: 900mm (minimum depth of water to float).

• Height of fixed structure: 3800mm (on dry land from underside keel to top of transom)

• Weight of vessel light ship condition: 10,000kg


Other details:

• Hull: Clinker built

• Rowing crew: 18

• Deck Crew: 3

• Passengers: 30

• Electric propulsion


• The electric propulsion system consists of 16 x 24V 100Ah Lithium batteries wired in series and parallel to give a total stored energy of 40kWh at 52V, enough for approx. 6 hours of cruising. Uniquely, the system had to be configured via two distribution/contactor boxes, so that the battery pack can power either both drives simultaneously, or in the event of a fault, to one electric drive only.

Gloriana’s hull has a yacht finish and her superstructure is decorated to the highest possible standard with fine Regency-style carvings, fully gilded with gold leaf, including a 3’ 6”high double-sided Royal Arms.


• The decorative design was created by Hare & Humphreys to reflect the tradition of historic Royal barges while also incorporating references to HM The Queen’s 60 years as reigning monarch. Personalised tributes were added in recognition of the long lasting marriage and support from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in the form of the emblems of the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, which can be seen painted either side of the rear cabin entrance. In November 2011 the rank of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, one of the Great Offices of State dating back to Mediaeval times, was bestowed by The Queen on HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

The cabin exterior is clad with fluted pilasters and gilded Corinthian capitals with centralised hand painted national emblems of each of Her Majesty’s 16 realms of the commonwealth, as well as the flags of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, Hare & Humphreys, qrb, QRB
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, Emily Todhunter rug design, London, qrb, QRB

The Royal crests were painted and gilded over both cabin entrances and HM The Queen's Royal cipher, EiiR over the stern section confirming the vessel as The Queen's Rowbarge.


• A specially made carpet with over 200,000 stitches was made for the coach. The rug is 4m x 2.14m in size and the design features The Queen’s cipher set into an adaptation of British designer Emily Todhunter’s Fretwork rug design and hand-knotted in Nepal by three families numbering 21 master craftsmen.

Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, qrb, QRB





Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, Royal Crest Detail, QRB, qrb
Gloriana, The Queen's Rowbarge, 2012 Olympics, Olympic Torch Relay, Cauldron, Thames, London Olympics, qrb, QRB