A royal tour of the canals

As Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, we’re taking a royal look back at our canals.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II with Dr David Owen at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port, 2 November 1979 HM Queen Elizabeth II with Dr David Owen at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port, 2 November 1979

Queen Elizabeth II has visited the waterways several times over the course of her reign, taking in the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour in 2012 and the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port in 1979. She officially reoponed the restored Kennet & Avon Canal in 1990, boarding the narrow boat ‘Rose of Hungerford’ at the canal’s famous Caen Hill Flight, where a lock is named in her honour.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II being shown narrowboats at the Boat Museum by Dr David Owen, 2 November 1979 HM Queen Elizabeth II being shown narrowboats at the Boat Museum by Dr David Owen, 2 November 1979

In Scotland in 2017, she opened the Queen Elizabeth II Canal, linking the Forth & Clyde Canal at the Kelpies with the Firth of Forth.  And, in London, the restored Bow Back Rivers are central to the 2012 Olympic Park named in her honour.

Royal boat names

We’ve found nearly 350 boats on our waterways which have names related to the Queen (circa one in every hundred).

66 boats are called Elizabeth or have Elizabeth in their names, while a further 130 contain derivatives such as Liz or Lizzie. There is one Platinum on our charity’s waterways, whilst sovereign titles are also popular, with 144 boat names containing Queen, Princess, or Royal.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II being shown the cabin of narrowboat Monarch and Prince Phillip boarding Gifford at Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port, 2 November 1979 HM Queen Elizabeth II being shown the cabin of narrowboat Monarch and Prince Phillip boarding Gifford at Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port, 2 November 1979

"Britain’s waterways have long had a close relationship with royalty."

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “Britain’s waterways have long had a close relationship with royalty: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has showed interest in the canals over the course of her reign and we are honoured to have His Royal Highness Prince Charles as our patron.

“The canals are an important part of the nation’s heritage and we are committed to protecting and preserving them for the benefit of all. Many boat owners are passionate about all aspects of boating, and perhaps the royal titles are a testament to how people see their boats! We wish her Majesty the best for her Platinum Jubilee and encourage boaters and those on the towpath to use the Jubilee celebratory weekend to experience the joys of our wonderful waterways.”

Volunteers stand beside plaque commemorating HRH Queen Elizabeth II reopening the Kennet & Avon Canal Volunteers stand beside plaque commemorating HM Queen Elizabeth II reopening the Kennet & Avon Canal

We wish all our visitors and supporters a happy Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

Last date edited: 30 May 2022