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Architect of The Queen’s ‘Gloriana’ Diamond Jubilee barge found dead

The architect who designed The Queen’s £1m royal jubilee barge has been found dead at his home in South Devon.

Ed Burnett was behind the plans for Gloriana, the barge which was originally designed to carry The Queen and other members of the royal family up the River Thames three years ago, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The royal barge 'Gloriana' rowing down the course before the start of finals at Henley Royal Regatta in 2012. Image Credit: Annie C

The royal barge ‘Gloriana’ rowing down the course before the start of finals at Henley Royal Regatta in 2012.            Image Credit: Annie C

Police found the 43-year-old dead upon entering his house in Totnes, after worried friends had not heard from him in several days. He passed away almost two weeks ago, although details of his death have only just been made public.

Insp Andy Tomlinson of Devon and Cornwall Police said:

“Following concerns from friends, who said he’d not been contactable for a few days, we made standard checks with the hospital to make sure that he wasn’t anywhere else.

“We forced entry and found him passed away in his premises.

“We are not treating his death as suspicious and there’s no indication of foul play, but it would be early days to disclose whether we think it is suicide.”

Mr Burnett’s design for the 194ft row barge was the first of kind to be built in over a century. The vessel’s opulent decor was truly fitting for the celebration of the monarch’s 60 year reign with grey-green furnishings throughout and 3ft-tall gilded rampant lions on its exterior.

The specially designed carpet, carrying the Queen’s cipher, was hand-woven woven in Nepal with old gold being used in a fretwork pattern – a design conjured up by luxury interior designer Emily Todhunter.

The extraordinary craftsmanship meant the barge was the first of its kind to be built in more than 100 years. Image Credit: Andrew Coombes

The extraordinary craftsmanship meant the barge was the first of its kind to be built in over 100 years.            Image Credit: Andrew Coombes

Her Majesty or The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were originally meant to use Gloriana for the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant but last-minute changes meant that the royal family boarded The Spirit of Chartwell instead.

As a result, Gloriana led the 1,000-strong flotilla along the Thames, escorting The Queen and other royals as thousands of well-wishers turned out in the poor weather to celebrate a major milestone of her reign.

Active in his community, Mr Burnett was a member of his local rowing club and was one of the rowers onboard Gloriana as it made its way along the river.

Image Credit: Maureen Barlin

Gloriana’s extravagant exterior, built using wood from sweet-chestnut trees on Prince Charles’s estate.             Image Credit: Maureen Barlin

Former captain of the Dart-Totnes rowing club, Alan Langmaid, said: “Everyone has been shocked about this, without exception. Everyone loved him, everyone. You couldn’t not like Ed.”

Other friends and colleagues of Mr Burnett have described him as an ‘incredible person’ and said he was one of the country’s most imaginative and respected designers of modern classic yachts.

Damian Byrne, the project manager for Gloriana‘s construction, paid tribute to his design work, saying:

There are notable naval architects practising today who declare an understanding for classic shapes, but few have shown the understanding of the subtleties of form that deliver a classic timeless vessel.

‘Ed Burnett was the naval architect responsible for the structural design of the Queen’s Row Barge Gloriana and he produced faired lines and many detailed construction drawings. Needless to say failure was not an option and the time pressure immense.”

Featured Image: Annie C

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