A renewed effort to encourage the building of a replacement ‘Royal Yacht’ has been put on the table by yachtsman and retired advertising entrepreneur Ian Maiden. Replacing the Britannia which was decommissioned in 1997 is a controversial subject and has had enthusiasm, pledges and disapprovals at every level of government and across the public spectrum.
The fact is 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.
Ian Maiden has sided with the enthusiasts, in pointing out 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. Usage of the ship by the Royal Family would add prestige but would take second place to the ship’s main focus.
Mr Maiden, who is also the executive producer of a forthcoming Scorsese drama feature film, has today launched a website to illustrate the concept and to encourage industrial giants and individuals to pledge their financial support to the project.
The new ship was elegantly yet conventionally styled, with something of the feel of Britannia, from the drawing board of the late internationally acclaimed yacht designer Jon Bannenberg with additional work by consultants BCTQ of Southampton. The ship is 127m long and would be crewed by 80 Commonwealth members.
MP Julian Lewis has added his support to the project. “The concept of a new Commonwealth Flagship is both visionary and practical,” he says. “Visionary, as a revival of the much-loved and much-missed Royal Yacht; practical as a Commonwealth-focused travelling centre for the promotion of UK trade and enterprise.”
The Commonwealth Flagship project is not without its rivals though. A second proposal is also on the table, a splendid Square Rigged Sail Training Ship with an educational role. “This is being championed by the Daily Mail, but a student/trainee compliment of 180 plus 20 scientists and a crew of 65 might perhaps make the vessel feel a little crowded when the Royal party is on board,” muses Ian Maiden.
As 84th in a long line of Royal Yachts that stretches back to 1660 the Commonwealth Flagship would take its place beside the hard-working Britannia to hold a proud place in British maritime history. Maiden adds “No new yacht has caused this degree of controversy since King Charles II acquired his Jachtship, the first Royal Yacht, from his Dutch friends in 1660”.
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. For further information visit www.commonwealthflagship.com.