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CAMPAIGN TO REPLACE "BRITANNIA"
The last royal yacht, "Britannia", was decommissioned in 1997 and is now a museum and function venue, permanently moored alongside the quay in Leith Docks, Edinburgh. It attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year.
In 1997, John Major's Conservative government committed itself to replacing the Royal Yacht if re-elected, while the Labour Party declined to disclose its plans for the vessel. Following Labour's victory on 1 May 1997 it was announced that the vessel would be retired and no replacement would be built.
The Conservative government argued that the cost of the vessel was justified by its role in foreign policy and promoting British interests abroad, particularly through conferences held aboard. When cancelling the replacement of the vessel, the new Labour government argued that the expenditure could not be justified given the other pressures on the defence budget (from which it would be funded and maintained).
Now proposals to build a new royal yacht to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee have are receiving considerable support and they won the backing of David Cameron yesterday, provided the project is 100% privately funded
The Prime Minister and senior Conservatives have swung behind the idea of a replacement for Britannia as a ‘fitting way’ to mark the Queen’s six decades of service to her country. Mr. Cameron has pledged his ‘full support’ for the ‘truly inspiring’ and ‘splendid’ initiative.
The £80million, 600ft royal yacht, funded by private donors and individual donations, would be among the largest sailing ships in the world.
The four-masted vessel would have state apartments for use by the monarch, but there would also be an exhibition hall and room for 220 youngsters because the vessel would also be used for trade and business events and by disadvantaged young people for science education and training.
The ship has been designed by the internationally renowned British naval architect Colin Mudie, whose designs have included sail-training ships for several navies. It has been codenamed FSP21 (Future Ship Project for the 21st Century) or ‘University of the Oceans’, underlining its educational role.
It is also understood that cross-party support will be forthcoming for any project which does not involve public funds. As a carbon-neutral project which would be built in modular form all over the United Kingdom, there is little scope for controversy provided that the taxpayer is not involved.
Mr Cameron has ruled out using taxpayers’ money for the new yacht, saying it would be inappropriate in the current economic climate.
(Daily Mail and Wikipedia)
What do you think? Is the proposal extravagant and unwelcome at this time? Perhaps it could be commercially sponsored, painted red and advertising Vodafone?
P.S. It was reported last year that the French President had taken delivery of his own personal Airbus A330, "Air Sarko One", costing £300million, (complete with fittings, which include a £65,000 baguette oven) - all naturally, paid for by the state.