Crowds flocked to the banks of the Thames yesterday to watch the 40-strong flotilla as it passed.

Thousands of people lined the Thames yesterday to witness one of largest flotilla’s the river has ever seen, marking the 200th anniversary of Nelson’s funeral. Dignitaries and descendants of those who fought at Trafalgar were aboard many of the boats taking part.

The reenactment of the funeral began with a ceremony at the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich and soon after the flotilla departed from the Queens Stairs to make its way up the river to Westminster Boating Base. The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West, representing the Chief Mourner made the journey aboard HMS Victory’s cutter, the Jubilant acting as the funeral barge.

As the flotilla passed HMS Belfast, sailors from HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan fired a 15 gun salute and the Jubilant’s rowers raised their oars to acknowledge the tribute. A ceremonial document produced for the Trafalgar 200 celebrations took the place of Nelson’s coffin on board and was delivered to St Paul’s Cathedral and the boats then continued to a reception with the Princess Royal on HMS Wellington before finally reaching Westminster Boating Base.

The 40-strong flotilla made a colourful addition to a grey day in the capital as around 500 oarsmen, many dressed in period costume rowed the vessels up the river – the crowds of spectators didn’t seem to be put off by the weather.