Royal Thames Pageant: Thousand boats take to river on Queen’s diamond jubilee (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The River Thames hasn’t seen so many vessels afloat on its waters for centuries. Up to 20,000 people aboard 1,000 boats, big and small, sailed up the river to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

­The River Pageant is being called the largest such celebration on the Thames since the reign of Charles II, 350 years ago.

The Queen, dressed in a white hat and a silver and white coat, travelled at the heart of the flotilla, which involved tugs, steamers, pleasure cruisers, dragon boats and kayaks.

As her royal barge, decorated with 10,000 flowers, neared the Tower of London at the end of its seven-mile journey, it was greeted by a 41-gun salute.

Queen Elizabeth II was accompanied by senior royals, her children and grandchildren.

Despite the rain and traditional grey skies above London, up to a million people crowded the embankments to cheer the Queen.

Britain′s Queen Elizabeth II (C) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (R) are greeted by Chelsea pensioners at Chelsea Pier in London (AFP Photo/Pool/Bethany Clarke)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (C) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (R) are greeted by Chelsea pensioners at Chelsea Pier in London (AFP Photo/Pool/Bethany Clarke)
A gun salute is fired from the banks of the River Thames at the Tower of London (AFP Photo/Pool/Paul Hackett)
A gun salute is fired from the banks of the River Thames at the Tower of London (AFP Photo/Pool/Paul Hackett)
Members of the British royal family (L-R) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Britain′s Queen Elizabeth II Prince William and Prince Harry stand aboard the royal barge ′Spirit of Chartwell′ (AFP Photo/Pool/Matt Dunham)
Members of the British royal family (L-R) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II Prince William and Prince Harry stand aboard the royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' (AFP Photo/Pool/Matt Dunham)
A girl waves with Britain′s Union flags along the river Thames (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)
A girl waves with Britain's Union flags along the river Thames (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)
The Queen′s rowbarge ′Gloriana′ (front) leads the manpowered section past the Houses of Parliament (AFP Photo/Ben Stansall)
The Queen's rowbarge 'Gloriana' (front) leads the manpowered section past the Houses of Parliament (AFP Photo/Ben Stansall)