Chamber of Shipping celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of HM the Queen: Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets


As the whole country prepares for a weekend of jubilations to mark the Queen’s sixty years on the throne, the Chamber has been looking back at some royal highlights from its own history.

The Chamber of Shipping was set up in 1878 to provide shipowners with a voice with which to be heard by Government. 134 years later, this is still a major function as the Chamber works with parliament, international organisations and all elements of the maritime cluster to ensure the UK’s continued success as the global maritime centre.

As Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets, Queen Elizabeth II has long been a patron of our industry. The Chamber’s archive shows the first time it was able to toast her, at its Annual Dinner and Dance on December 4 1952, with Sir Richard Snedden (pictured below) as President.

The Chamber has had the honour of welcoming Her Majesty on two occasions; the first of which on November 18 1964 when she visited the new extension into St Mary Axe of the Chamber’s then home in Bury Court. This felt like something of a full circle as Her Majesty’s father, King George VI, had visited the original building in 1940.

On the night of April 10 1992, a van packed with explosives was detonated outside the Chamber’s offices at St Mary Axe, and its neighbour the Baltic Exchange. Three people were killed and both buildings extensively damaged. Despite being the furthest painting from the blast, Terence Cuneo’s depiction of the Queen’s 1964 visit was destroyed apart from a few fragments found by Chamber staff. These were used as the basis for a reconstruction which was first unveiled at Her Majesty’s visit in 1994 and still hangs in Carthusian Court today.

From the bomb’s devastation came a new era and the Chamber moved to its current home in Carthusian Court. Here, at the grand opening on October 25 1994, the Chamber was again privileged to receive the Queen’s presence.

The Chamber has welcomed many other members of the Royal family in its recent history, including Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, who visited the Chamber to discuss the current state of the UK shipping industry. The Princess Royal is the patron of many maritime charities, including the Mission to Seafarers and Sea Vision UK and has attended many events to support their work, including a visit to Cunard’s newest liner, the Queen Elizabeth, just last week, held to raise awareness and understanding of the sea and maritime industry with young people.

On the occasion of Her Majesty’s first visit to the Chamber in 1964, the programme foreword remarked on the changing circumstances since the visit of her father 24 years earlier, concluding that:

“Running through this ever changing pattern, is the golden thread of royal interest in this country’s Merchant Navy. British shipowners, and all those who have to do with the sea, can go about their vocations in the confident believe that this will always be so.”

As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of Her Majesty’s rule and look forward to a 1,000 vessel jubilee river pageant, the most spectacular nautical event seen in London for 350 years, the Chamber is proud to reflect that this royal interest seems clearer than ever.

The Chamber sends its most loyal greetings and congratulations on this historic occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!