The white-gloved arm cut a broad swathe through the air.
To port and starboard were warships flying the flags of 57 nations.
Cheers carried on the wind were acknowledged with a regal wave which was more emphatic than the usual gesture executed from Bentleys.
Never before had so many ships - and submarines - gathered in peace time for a royal international fleet review.
A golden hat pin held the Queen's headgear firmly in place as she took the salute of 167 vessels in the Solent, off Portsmouth.
Alongside her, on board the Antarctic survey ship HMS Endurance, stood the Duke of Edinburgh, in the uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, encrusted with faded gold braid.
Always one for maps, the 84-year-old Duke followed the royal ice-patrol ship's progress on a chart showing the ranks of vessels at anchor.
The occasion was in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Britain's greatest naval hero, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.
The royal party, reinforced by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West, stood in a specially constructed wood and glass booth on the top deck of Endurance.
Defence Secretary Dr John Reid hovered on deck, showing signs of a liberal application of white sun block to his nose and balding head.
The Queen, now recovered from a heavy cold, had embarked at Portsmouth naval dockyard after receiving the Keys of the City.
Large crowds lined the shore and cheered the royal ship as it made its way to Spithead for the start of the historic review.
The British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible headed the international review and sounded a 21-gun royal salute.
To starboard - or the right to landlubbers - three nuclear submarines - Trafalgar, Trenchant and Turbulent - lingered on the sea's surface.
America's aircraft carrier USS Saipan was the first of the many overseas ships in the review, followed by the largest vessel on show, France's carrier, the General De Gaulle, which played God Save The Queen over its loudspeakers.