In the paper the other day, I read that education minister Michael Gove was one of several individuals who had the brilliant idea to present Queen Elizabeth II with a new yacht for her Diamond Jubilee. It would finally replace the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997. Unfortunately, the prime minister, David Cameron, thought the hefty 60 to 80 million pound ($92 – $123 million) price tag might stretch the taxpayers generosity in these hard financial times, but welcomed supporting private efforts to raise the money for the project.
The Queen had a spectacular yacht before it was retired, The Britannia.
The Royal Yacht Britannia in Portsmouth. Photo by Steve Daniels, Geograph project
It has a rich history, and occasionally was seen out around the seas of the UK and abroad after it was first launched in 1953 by HM Queen Elizabeth II.
1994, The Royal Yacht on the Thames, photo by Creative Commons, Christine Matthews
My Beloved Brit remembers seeing it occasionally when out yacht racing, especially in the summer at the Cowes Week Regatta on the southern shore of England. He always recalls it with great fondness. It is a beautiful yacht.
Final entry in to Portsmouth, 11-22-97, escorted by HMS Southampton. British Crown copyright/MOD
The last time we were in Edinburgh, Scotland, we were able to board and tour the yacht, now a tourist attraction on the Leith dock right outside the city. It was incredible. It is absolutely one of the most beautiful yachts I have ever been on, and believe it or not, with all its attention to detail and exquisite furnishings, it seemed rather cozy.
The Royal Family aboard the yacht, The British Monarchy, all rights reserved
Still, I could imagine the honeymooners, Charles and Diana (see video), on her decks in 1981 after flying to Gibraltar to meet Britannia. Or Princess Margaret lighting a long cigarette as she entertained some lucky famous guests. You could just picture the Queen settling in to her private suite, or contemplating the future of her country while strolling its decks.
Doesn't this look cozy.
MBB, of course, loved the technical side of the great yacht, and we were able to go through the crews’ quarters, the control rooms, the bridge and even see the massive engines. (click here to see video on layout of Britannia)
The controls of Britannia, photo by Alan Pennington, creative commons.
Education minister Gove recently wrote about his wish to see a new royal yacht commissioned for the Diamond Jubilee:
“In spite, and perhaps because of the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees and mark the greater achievement that the diamond anniversary represents.”
He said that the queen’s “highly significant contribution” to Britain and the Commonwealth, which groups 54 nations, mostly former British colonies, should be recognised with something more permanent than street parties.
Sounds like a very interesting discussion, indeed. I know MBB would welcome seeing a new Royal Yacht on the high seas.