Proposed royal yacht stirs anger in Britain

LONDON – Should Queen Elizabeth II have a new royal yacht to celebrate her diamond jubilee and replace her beloved Britannia, the graceful vessel that carried her and the royal family on vacations, honeymoons and state visits until 1997?

Maybe. But it won’t be paid for by any loyal subjects, say her prime minister and many of her cash-strapped fellow Britons.

Word that Education Secretary Michael Gove had called for giving the queen a new yacht to mark the 60th anniversary of her monarchy was leaked to the Guardian newspaper and raised an uproar in the media Tuesday.

The Guardian reported Monday that Gove had written to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in September that despite “and perhaps because of the austere times,” jubilee celebrations “should go beyond … previous jubilees.” Gove suggested “a gift from the nation to her majesty … a royal yacht” as “something tangible to commemorate this momentous occasion.”

Should there be insufficient taxpayer funds for the $90 million proposal, he wrote, private donations could be sought.

A firm no to any taxpayer funding came quickly from Prime Minister David Cameron’s office, but his press office said Tuesday that there could be support for a privately funded proposal.

Less inhibited critics vented wrath over the idea of a royal yacht, with the left-leaning Guardian leading the way. Gove’s idea had “Marie Antoinette echoes,” said its editorial.

“Britannia II will not rule the waves,” said a piece in Tuesday’s Independent editorial.


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