New royal yacht

Government floats proposal but even Leavers remain unconvinced

She once may have ruled the waves, but the royal yacht, Britannia, the Queen’s former floating palace, is now berthed permanently in Edinburgh, ruling as a number one, five-star tourist attraction. The grand old lady of the seas sits sedately in calm waters as a glamorous reminder of a different age, a time of black-and-white television newsreels featuring shots of the young Queen, accompanied by the dashing Duke of Edinburgh, usually in full uniform and medals, stepping ashore in some far flung corner of the globe to fanfares and the excited cheers of massed crowds. But that was then and it already seems a long time ago – so last century.

Britannia was in fact decommissioned in 1997, and when Prince Philip passed away earlier this year some members of the government saw it as a timely opportunity to gain popular support for a proposal to build a brand new royal yacht to be named after the Duke.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announcing the plan for the £200m national flagship, said it would be “the first vessel of its kind in the world, reflecting the UK’s burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime nation.” The Prime Minister reckoned the vessel could be built and launched within four years, but since the announcement, detailed plans or a construction schedule have been not just thin on the ground, but all at sea.

Firstly, sources say the royals don’t want a new yacht, or state flagship, and then there is the question of who is to pay for it, with the Treasury, the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office all reluctant to come up with the cash. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says that government discussions are continuing and that he’s “not sure that any conclusions have been reached.”

But he thinks a new vessel is a great idea, reckoning that the super ship would be a prestigious symbol of Britain, which, on overseas trade missions, would give us “more bang for our buck.” The proposal though, hasn’t gone with a bang for most of our readers. A clear majority of 59% say that the £200m price tag simply can’t be justified when government finances are already under severe strain and that there are more important priorities to consider.

Consequently there is little in the way of strong support, just 9%, for the commissioning of a new vessel. And our survey figures show that though more Brexit Remainers than Leavers oppose the plan, there’s not much in the way of strong support from even Leave voters. And finally, the idea of giving dear old Britannia a makeover so that she’s ship shape and can set to sea once again, did receive a little more support, 31% in all, but it’s hardly sufficient to run up the flags, splice the mainbrace, and crack a bottle of bubbly over her bows. Most it seems are content to let her rest, though certainly not rust, in nautical peace.

 

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