Replacing the Royal Yacht Britannia is a forever-controversial subject and has seen enthusiasm, pledges and disapprovals at every level of government and across the public spectrum. In the history of the 83 Royal yachts, no new one has caused such a degree of controversy since King Charles II acquired his Jachtship, the first Royal Yacht, from the Dutch in 1660.
Dusting off plans and timed to coincide with the Queens Jubilee celebrations yet another attempt is being made to encourage the building of a replacement ‘Royal Yacht’
Yachtsman and retired advertising executive Ian Maiden has put this one on the table. He believes that times have changed and financing a new yacht from the public purse is currently definitely not an option. This is despite the fact that this ship’s prime purpose would be that of a Commonwealth Flagship, touring the world in support of Commonwealth trade and enterprise, rather than a holiday hideaway for British Royals.
So Maiden has sided with the enthusiasts, including multi millionaire peer Lord Ashcroft who is reported to own both the 50 metre Hakvoort Lady M and the 46 metre Atlantic Goose.
Together they believe that a Commonwealth Flagship would bring huge benefits to Commonwealth countries, many of them still developing economically, in helping to trade and exhibit their exports, and for training and education.
Lord Ashcroft has, according to the Web site, already pledged £5 million to a charitable trust that could lead the way in replacing Britannia which was decommissioned in 1997.
To promote the cause a new website has been launched at www.commonwealthflagship.com. It sets out to illustrate the concept and to encourage industrial giants and individuals to pledge their financial support to the project.
The new ship has been elegantly yet conventionally styled, with something of the feel of the last Britannia. It comes from the drawing board of the late and internationally acclaimed yacht designer Jon Bannenberg who completed the designs before he died in 2002. The ship is 127m long and would be crewed by 80 Commonwealth members.
The Commonwealth Flagship website invites opinions and support. “I am now inviting someone to pick up the baton and run with it and carry the project forward,” concludes Maiden.