Who are the Royal Watermen and what role will they have in King Charles’ coronation?

PLANS for King Charles III’s coronation are all in place, as the UK gets ready to watch a moment in history.

There will be many dignitaries taking part in the occasion, including the Royal Watermen.


King Charles’ Royal Watermen will take part in the coronationCredit: AFP

Who are the Royal Watermen?

Until the middle of the nineteenth century the Sovereign regularly travelled on the River Thames for State occasions.

The men who rowed the Royal Barges were known as the Royal Watermen.

King Charles still retains 24 Royal Watermen under the command of The King’s Bargemaster.

The original number of 48 was halved by King Edward VII.

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Royal Watermen are chosen from the ranks of the Thames Watermen whose business is manning tugs, lighters and launches, therefore earning their employment on the River.

There are no State Barges still afloat today, but the Royal Nore is used whenever a member of the Royal Family travels on the River Thames.

Upon their appointment, each Waterman is given a Warrant of Appointment and paid a small honorary sum per year, according to official Royal website.

What uniform do the Royal Watermen wear?

The Royal Watermen wear an official uniform.

Their regalia is a skirted scarlet tunic with a silver gilt Royal Cypher on the front and back of the jacket.

The uniform also includes breeches, navy/black cap, scarlet stockings, white shirt and black buckled shoes.

What do the Royal Watermen do?

The duties of the Royal Watermen are now purely ceremonial.

On the water, the Watermen escort members of the Royal Family on board the Royal Nore on the river Thames, and visiting Heads of State who arrive in London on the river.

On-shore duties consist of acting as boxmen on Royal carriages during State Visits, Royal weddings and Jubilees.

Who is the King’s Bargemaster?

The King’s Bargemaster is a subordinate officer of the Royal Household.

Over the years there have been nine people who have held the position.

Since 2018 Chris Livett – who is a a seventh generation Thames Waterman – has had the job.

What role will the Royal Watermen have in King Charles’ coronation?

The Royal Watermen will take part in the coronation procession, after the King has been crowned.

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They will walk behind the King’s Bargemaster

As well as the Royal Watermen, the procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace will include Armed Forces from across the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, and all Services of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom.

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