The anti-Monarchist campaign group Republic has accused Lord Salisbury, the organizer of London's riverboat pageant of 'blackmail' over his threat to 'name and shame' big corporations with riverfront views that have failed to contribute to the ten million pound cost of the event.
In a sign of growing nervousness about the under-funding of the event, which will see 1,000 boats process for seven miles down the Thames, Lord Salisbury last night told Sky News that "very distinguished people" in the city, who run companies with premises overlooking the Thames were using the pageant on June 3 for corporate hospitality by entertaining clients at rooftop parties, but added that many of them have refused to help sponsor the event, which has not yet raised its target funding.
Unilever, which has breathtaking views over the Thames from its office next to Blackfriars Bridge and British Airways are thought to be among the companies which have so far failed to contribute.
Lord Salisbury told Sky News: "There are huge companies hosting large parties watching a free show we're providing who have not made any contribution at all. Unless they start showing some generosity, I'll start naming them."
In comments that seem unlikely to play well with the British people, where the economy has recently re-entered recession, the millionaire peer said that reaching the £10.5m target to stage what will be the centrepiece of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations has "given me a huge amount of unnecessary work" and has been "unnecessarily distracting".
However, many believe Lord Salisbury has only himself to blame after alienating many potential sponsors by saying he did not want a 'Tesco' pageant, and that the vessels taking part could not be emblazoned with adverts and company logos.
"I don't know whether this is part of the problem, but this is about paying a tribute to the Queen so we didn't believe it was appropriate," he said yesterday.
Guy Craft, a Director of Republic, told The Daily Beast: 'There is nothing distinguished about blackmailing organisations to contribute to a sadly misguided and overly costly exercise in royal flattery – particularly during a recession. He may not want a ‘Tesco’ pageant, but should cut his cloth appropriately. This once again shows that though people purport to support Monarchy – when it comes down to the bottom line they really don’t want to pay for it."