17 September 2012 - UPDATE: It has just been announced that 'The Queen has been graciously pleased, on the ocassion of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee' to award Brian Todhunter with the Royal Victorian Medal (Silver) for 'Restoration of Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia's Royal Barge and Escort Boats'.
Brian Todhunter, a member of Tuscan Oak and Lamberthead Lodge No.6387, will be on board the Royal Yacht Britannia's tender, the Britannia Royal Barge, transporting Her Majesty The Queen to the Royal Barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant this weekend.
Brian is a former Royal Navy engineer and a member of the Association of Royal Yachtsmen, having served on the Royal Yacht Britannia between 1975 and 1978. Last November, at the Association's Annual General Meeting, he was asked to inspect the Britannia Royal Barge and an escort launch in order to get them both running. He quickly put together a team of ex-Royal Yachtsmen from the engineering branch, and, based in Leith, Scotland (Britannia's current home), they have worked tirelessly for the past seven months in order to recommission their engines and get the boats shipshape. This has included extensive sea trials on the Firth of Forth in Force 4 winds - although he is not expecting anything quite so rough on the Thames!
The royal barge was used to transport The Queen and other members of the Royal Family to and from Britannia, until she was decommissioned in 1997. Brian, who also served on HMS Hermes, said: “Its remarkable how well she ran after 15 years of idleness. We are all looking forward to carrying out Royal duty again - although probably for the last time”.
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, who is Patron of the Pageant, and the Duchess of Cornwall, will board the Britannia Royal Barge, at Chelsea Pier. They will then be transported some eight hundred yards downstream to Cadogan Pier, where they will disembark and board the Royal Barge, the Spirit of Chartwell. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will join them onboard.
The Britannia Royal Barge will then proudly escort the Royal Barge at the head of this spectacular pageant until the Royal party disembarks close to Blackfriars Bridge and boards HMS President, where they will watch the pageant go by.
The Association of Royal Yachtsmen was founded in 1989 by Albert ‘Dixie’ Deane and is dedicated to bringing together many of the estimated 1,767 ‘Yotties’ who served on-board HMY Britannia between 14 January 1954 and 11 December 1997. HM The Queen is Patron of the Association and the Duke of Edinburgh is its President. Its headquarters are on the Royal Yacht Britannia, where many Yotties return annually for their working party week. Throughout this sociable week the Yotties work alongside Britannia’s maintenance crew to undertake a wide range of jobs throughout their old home. They also mix with visitors, who are enthralled by their stories of the 'good old days'.