A LAKE District boat is to join a thousand-strong fleet sailing in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee procession on the Thames this summer.
One of Windermere’s well-worn wooden tourist vessels has been selected by Royal organisers to take part in the event – the largest flotilla in modern times.
More than two million people are expected to watch from the embankments of the Thames as the seven-mile procession steers through London waters.
Cumbria’s own aptly-named participant, The Queen of the Lake, owned by Windermere Lake Cruises, is currently being repainted and refurbished for the spectacular, on Sunday, June 3.
The flotilla will be led by Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal family aboard a barge called The Spirit of Chartwell.
It will sail under 14 bridges, alongside groups of narrow boats, historic vessels including World War Two ships from the Dunkirk beaches and replica Tudor ships.
Managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises Nigel Wilkinson said: “We are delighted Cumbria will be represented at such a high-profile, patriotic event which will inevitably strike a cord with the whole country as we celebrate her Majesty the Queen and her 60-year reign together.
“We hope to be able to involve the wider Cumbria community in this project and to give some younger Cumbrians a day out that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Boat building manager Alex Williamson and operations manager Russell Bowden will lead the team south for the patriotic event.
Windermere skipper Ron Walker will captain the boat on the day itself.
The 15-metre tourist boat, built in 1949, will be hoisted out of the water at Ambleside and driven almost 300 miles by lorry before it is launched on the Thames.
It is a reversal of the ship’s initial northern voyage, 60 years ago, when she was transported to Windermere from the Thames-side town of Molsey, where she was built.
It is not the first time the Queen of the Lake has been given a Royal mark of approval. In March 2010 it carried the Prince of Wales when he visited the Lake District.
Next generation of reactors will be built at Sellafield and Heysham, the Government announced today as it pushes ahead with plans for new nuclear power plants.
In the first major announcement on the future of nuclear in the UK since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Government outlined the locations deemed suitable for new power stations by 2025, all of which are adjacent to existing nuclear sites.
The eight sites are: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.
The plans for new nuclear power plants are part of a series of national policy statements on energy which were published today, following a public consultation.
They will be debated and voted on in Parliament, but ministers are hopeful that, with a pro-nuclear majority in the Commons, they will win the argument.
Nuclear power is one of the issues that divided Conservatives and Liberal Democrats when they entered Government together, with the coalition deal allowing a Lib Dem spokesman to speak out against any new nuclear plants, while Lib Dem MPs could abstain on the issue.
Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has since given his backing to new reactors, insisting they would not be subsidised by the taxpayer - although MPs have warned that reform of the electricity market could favour nuclear power and amount to a hidden subsidy.
The Government is planning the new suite of reactors to maintain electricity supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions as an old generation of power stations is shut down.
The future of nuclear as a power source for countries around the world was called into question earlier this year after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami rocked the reactors at Fukushima, leaving radioactivity leaking from the plant.
Mr Huhne signalled last month that plans for new reactors in the UK were on track after an initial report on Fukushima from nuclear chief inspector Mike Weightman ruled out the need to curtail the operation of nuclear power stations in the UK in light of the situation in Japan.
The energy policy statements aim to provide a framework for making planning decisions so projects do not face "unnecessary hold-ups".
They set out the need for billions of pounds of investment in new energy sources, including 33 gigawatts of renewable power - the equivalent of thousands of offshore wind turbines - to meet the UK's future needs.
Energy minister Charles Hendry said: "Around a quarter of the UK's generating capacity is due to close by the end of this decade. We need to replace this with secure, low carbon, affordable energy.
"This will require over £100 billion worth of investment in electricity generation alone.
"This means twice as much investment in energy infrastructure in this decade as was achieved in the last decade.
"Industry needs as much certainty as possible to make such big investments.
"These plans set out our energy need to help guide the planning process, so that if acceptable proposals come forward in appropriate places, they will not face unnecessary hold-ups."
He said the coalition Government was determined to make the UK attractive to investors to ensure that the country had secure, affordable, low-carbon energy.