17 Jan 2012

British government not keen on new yacht for Queen

6:08 pm on 17 January 2012

The British government is not keen on suggestions in a time of austerity that taxpayers should fund a new royal yacht for Queen Elizabeth to mark her 60th year on the throne.

The Royal yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997.

Now the Guardian newspaper reports Education Secretary Michael Gove has recommended replacing it as a significant gesture to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

The letter made reference to Britain's current economic woes, but added that despite "and perhaps because of the austere times", the Jubilee celebrations should be greater than any that had gone before.

However, the idea was immediately scuppered by Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg.

"I don't think this would be an appropriate use of public money given the state of the nation's finances," a spokesman for Mr Cameron said.

The BBC reports the Britannia served the Queen for 44 years, carrying her and the Royal Family on 968 official voyages before being taken out of service in 1997.

The ship, currently in dry dock undergoing repairs, is now a tourist attraction in Edinburgh.

The Conservative Party called for a replacement yacht when Britannia was decommissioned. But a poll showed 72% of respondents disapproved of using public money for it.

Buckingham Palace said it had no comment on the report.