For and Against: The Queen's yacht

Daisy BlacklockYouGovLabs writer
January 27, 2012, 11:21 AM UTC

Last week news broke of another proposal to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. And no, not the 1,000-strong Thames flotilla already planned– but a new, £60m royal yacht. The yacht’s champion, Education Secretary Michael Gove, said that presenting a new royal vessel to the Queen would be fitting for the 'momentous occasion' of her 60th year of reign, as 'a gift from the nation to her majesty' to replace the defunct Royal Britannia.

YouGov discovered through our Public Opinion polling that 24% of the British public think the Queen should be given a yacht, compared with 64% who think she shouldn’t.

We invited you onto our political Soapbox to give your reasons for being for or against (or indeed indifferent) to the idea.

Any debate surrounding the royal family inevitably prompts a Royalist – Republican clash.

But at times of economic hardship, and judging by the comments you made across the board, this opposition intensifies. It has been reported that the Queen is concerned with exercising prudence when it comes to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, at a time when the Government is continuing to remind the public that there is no money left, and jobs, services and benefits are being cut up and down the UK.

However, those in the pro-yacht camp argue that there is no better time to embark on such a project: Britain is badly in need of a boost, they say; the ‘Great’ needs putting back into ‘Great Britain’; and a new royal yacht would be great cause for national pride.

Those arguments, along with the ones below, reflect the range of views submitted in this Soapbox, and gives a sense of what you, the public, are thinking and feeling.

1. For...A new royal yacht

Argument 1 - The Jubilee is a historic occasion of national pride

“Yes, yes yes, it’s the least we should do. The Queen is above politics, and should be viewed on her own merits” - Nigel, Wales

“The Queen has served her country well.
Think of how old she, Philip, Charles and Camilla etc. are; it must be hard for them to do daily what they do. They go to work when everyone her and Phillip’s age are most likely retired. The family were very upset when Britannia left service, as the boat held such memories for them. All these jolly holidays people think they take are all about work. They do a grand job, so give them a boat back” - Lesley, Portsmouth

“As a mark of respect, and gratitude for the service the royal family provide to us. We should be proud to be loyal subjects of the Queen, and not be swayed by the political correctness that has overwhelmed patriotism” - Anon, Isle of Wight

“So that she can sail away into the sunset happy and content, knowing that her people love, support and cherish her on her journey to the new utopia (and hopefully after bequeathing Balmoral to the Scottish people in remembrance of her long rule) ...” - Anon

“Any employee who had worked for 60 years for the same firm deserves a considerable present
, especially if their yearly income had been decreasing in real terms to the same extent as the Queen's. And if private funds cover the cost, all the better” - Jack, Manchester

“Do you not think that the Diamond Jubilee deserves a grand gesture
like a royal yacht?” - John, Central London

“Queen Elizabeth II has reigned over the British Realm for sixty years and has consistently shown herself to be above personal grievances in order to do the best for her country and Commonwealth. To mark this historic Jubilee, she should be commemorated in several ways – but a new yacht should have a high majority of public donations and possible some Lottery or Government grants” -Ally, Scotland

Argument 2 - The yacht would be an important British status symbol

“It'd be a sign of a self-assured, confident nation, which was comfortable in its own skin. We either have a monarchy or we don't, and if we do have a monarchy we shouldn't expect a cut-price, half-baked, pseudo-political one” - John, South-west England

“The Queen stands for the values and standards for which we were known 'once-upon-a-time'. She represents all that we value(d) as a nation and has done so without deviating at all. Over the years she has modernised without giving in to the laissez-faire attitude so visible in daily life now. We need to revisit the pride and standing of our country, to unite the divided and fragmented 'nation' we have perforce become. We are not 'giving' it to the Queen or to anyone else – we give it to ourselves and what we once were. In salute to her great reign and to what gives us pride and hope as her people. We cannot lose this as well” - Wena, North Wales

“All that she has belongs to the UK, and shows the world who we are” - Anon

“As the nation has a royal family, with Her Majesty the Queen as Head of State, it's important for our national standing that she is afforded prestigious transport. To see the poor soul tottering off a normal railway train the other day was somehow demeaning” - Anon

“The Queen is one of the many symbols of Britain that gives it its identity! I immigrated to this country for what Britain stands for – to keep up the British identity. Without monarchy, Britain will lose a huge part of its identity” - Anon

“Britannia was a very useful tool for marketing and promoting British goods around the world. Since its demise, one of the more useful activities of the royal family was removed. When you have a fine PR and marketing tool for UK industry (the royal family have been – and see themselves as – that) then they are most effective when given the right tools for the job. A floating sales and promotion platform for British industry which they can add gloss to would be a logical tool” - Andy, Worcester

Argument 3 - A new yacht would be a 'floating ambassador'

“A new (British-made) HMY Britannia would illustrate to the world that 'Britain is back', looking to trade, and forge links with the rest of the world. A new 'Britannia' would be an excellent way to demonstrate what's best about Britain” - Mike, East Midlands

“If the UK wishes to be regarded as a power in the world, it should have the items of prestige such as a Royal Yacht. This has nothing to do with the Queen, but is for the country’s international reputation” - Chris, Cowes

“We are a maritime nation and should show it” - AWM, Chester

“It allows a secure, vetted British-controlled base anywhere there is a harbour. It will also increase our credibility, just as Air Force One, the Presidential plane, did for the US” - Phil, Essex

“A royal yacht is a great way for the royal family to show their hospitality whilst abroad” - Adrian, Southampton

 “A new yacht would allow the 85-year-old monarch and other royal dignitaries to ply the seas as they once did. On Britannia they made nearly 700 overseas visits in more than 40 years aboard the 410-foot Royal Yacht, and a million nautical miles of sailing to places as varied as Tonga and Tobruk” - Anon

"The ‘keeping up appearances’ grandeur and impression likely count for a lot in international commerce, and such things are likely to improve our standing in the international community” - Ash

“It should be built and equipped in the UK or not at all. It should be built to the highest possible standards, and be a floating advertisement for British engineering” - Jon, Southeast

Argument 4 - A yacht would have other civilian uses too


“This yacht, if the proposals are anything to go by, would be used as a conference centre, and for youth training & initiatives. Giving a yacht would show we still care about Britain ... which a lot of us still do” - Jill, Cornwall

 “The idea that the yacht could also be used as a training vessel is excellent, and could become part of either The Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme or in education more broadly” - HW, Herefordshire

“If it is as described in the press, it will be a multifunctional vessel available to the public for various activities, and will be used by this country, if needed, in time of conflict” - Kay, Bath

“If the yacht were given and also used for educational purposes, as well as increasing trade for Britain, it would not only be a holiday home for the Queen, but also a mark of her achievements that might last after her reign” - Anon

Argument 5 - A yacht makes sense economically

“In 60 years the Queen has worked tirelessly for this country and, arguably, has brought millions of pounds to this country by attracting tourists and creating a stable democracy. A show of glamour is what this country needs – just look at the impact of the Royal Wedding last year, and the attention given Britain internationally in a very positive way. If £60 million is all it takes to bring some of the pomp and circumstance back to this country then I am all for it. Britannia should never have been abandoned at Leith Docks!” - Elle, Surrey

“It's a showcase for Britain, and if it's privately funded, what's to lose?” - Stuart, Northwest

“On purely financial grounds, I believe the Queen on balance brings in more business and money to the country than she takes, so it is an investment” - CF, Cambridgeshire

“Although things are tough at the moment The Queen has served our country exceedingly well, and personally has never seemed to be the least bit profligate. I feel that she deserves to know we appreciate her” - Lynda, Scotland

“The least we can do to give her something in return for giving her life to her country. If it costs nothing to the taxpayer in particular, why are so many people upset about it?” - Anon

When the Queen or any member of the Royal Family is on tour a yacht would be easier for security and would save on Hotel costs, and the cost of hiring conference venues for trade missions. Our overseas embassies are being closed and so they cannot be used, either” - Anon, Middlesex

Argument 6 - Britannia should never have been decommissioned

“Our Royal Family is a wonderful institution – and the Queen is a true ambassador for this country - Britannia was taken from her by the last government – give her a new yacht!” - John, Kent

“It was sheer mean-spiritedness of the Labour government of the time to decommission the previous royal yacht, Britannia, long before necessary. So keen were they to take a 'poke' at the Queen that they stupidly threw away the high value this yacht earned as an ambassadorial tool for this country, gaining political prestige, and trade opportunities for the UK. We owe the Queen for this personal insult to her, and the UK for business lost” - Ginny, Southampton

“Britannia brought in a lot of business and we seem to have lost this presence in the world markets” - Anon

“It was a real let down when we let Britannia go without a replacement. It demeans the country” - Anon

 

2. Against...a new royal yacht

Argument 1 - There is no place for monarchy nowadays

“The monarchy is an out-of-date concept. There is no justification for having the head of state being the eldest child of one privileged family. We ridicule North Korea for its dynasty, yet revere ours. Our Queen has conducted herself with dignity and been moderately successful as a head of state. But supplying the Queen with a prestigious new symbol of office helps perpetuate a broken system. It is time to face the future and change to something with value and virtue, not cling to sentimental escapism” - Ken, Oxfordshire

“As a nation we should let go of the past. We are not going to get the Empire back and the Royal family are part of our fantasy vision of Britain” - Anon

“The Queen and her family should not be given a new yacht for her Jubilee because they are not even relevant to this country anymore. They should be got rid of and let the government get on with things in the real world, instead of the pomp and ceremony of the royals. Why people still look up to them I don’t know, they are dinosaurs. They don’t even know what the real world is about; they live in a fantasy world” - Pat, Manchester

Monarchy is irrelevant in today's society. Amid such massive inequality, no more should be given to the wealthy when it could be used to support the poorest in society or to benefit everyone (NHS, education, etc.)” - Anon

Argument 2 - The Royals should pay themselves

“When I had my job for a certain length of time they gave me a KitKat and I celebrated by buying myself a ‘new’ used car. I loved that car and it felt great that I'd bought it with my own hard earned money. QE2 I'm sure would feel the same pride (relative to income) if she bought herself a new -boat, then filled it with her own tax-free diesel” - Anon

“We're in the middle of the worst recession for years, with most people struggling to survive, so wasting money on such a frivolous and unnecessary item is ludicrous. If Lizzie wants a new yacht, let her spend her own considerable fortune on it” - 'Compwitch', Scotland

“She's rich enough to buy herself one – or let wealthy companies and individuals contribute – taxpayers are suffering too much from current economic conditions” - Anon

“We are all being squeezed for money we don't have. However good the Royal family may be, they have a lot more money than us – if they want one they should pay for it!” - Louie, Wiltshire

Argument 3 - The money should be spent elsewhere

“We could recognise the Queen’s achievement in living things e.g. by preserving a special building, landmark, or part of the countryside, where the UK benefits, as do the coffers, but in her name. ‘In memoriam’ for all time. I always thought the French had the right idea when it came to the millennium – they planted 1000 trees. We could have a train – The Diamond Express, but a charity fund-raising train when not used by the Royal Family. I feel some thinking outside the box, made open to the public and our unemployed graduates would be a plan. How about The Diamond Hospital for the elderly & infirm?” - Susy, County Down

 “If Michael Gove feels we have the money for such a project perhaps he should do his job and use the funds to restore the School Music Programmes and Library services up and down the country which are being decimated by his government’s policy? We could name it something like ‘The Queen's Jubilee present to the Arts’” - Alan, Southeast

“I think it would be fairer if an institution benefited from her Diamond Jubilee like a hospital wing in her name or a scholarship for the poorer to attend university” - J, East Midlands

“Waste of money, even if it is paid for by private donations. Why can’t those people donate to a worthwhile charity, maybe help the large number of people unemployed or homeless due to government cuts! The Queen doesn’t need a yacht. In our current economic situation it is completely ridiculous and insulting to the public to even suggest an idea like that!- Anon

Argument 4 - The yacht is 'out-of touch' and a 'PR disaster'

“Everyone in the real world is struggling just to make ends meet. Such a vulgar display of wealth would be insulting and may even in an extreme scenario fuel another round of riots” - Anon

“Our leaders should be setting an example – receiving a £60m yacht when 2.7m people are unemployed isn’t the right message” - Mark, Merseyside

“In these hard times the Queen must be seen to be contributing to paying off the deficit alongside her loyal subjects!” - Mike, North Wales

“In view of the fact that so many people in Britain are struggling to make ends meet, I think it would be distasteful to spend such a huge amount on an unnecessary gesture. If offered I think the Queen would gain more respect from refusing it” - Anon

“Even if the proposal is to fund the yacht from private donations, it will be seen as divisive and inappropriate, and will simply cause more resentment aimed at the royal family, rather than enhance the Queen's reputation and achievements. It's a nice idea, but the timing is totally wrong!” - Anne, Cumbria

“When we are in austerity it’s a blatant waste of money. If privately-funded and supporting education, surely the money would be better spent on schools, universities or supporting young people in a more meaningful way? It makes no difference whether government or privately funded – there is still a better way of using this money. Surely a more personal thank you from the Queen's subjects would be more meaningful for an elderly lady – can someone not come up with a more innovative idea?” - Is, Hampshire

Argument 5 - There must be a better monument to Queen's 60th year

“The Queen has done a fantastic job and will one day be regarded as one of our best monarchs; she well deserves a gift to mark the nation's appreciation. I think we should all club together (on a strictly voluntary basis) to buy her about the best race-horse in the world, with the hope that she will live long enough to see it win some significant races” - Gerry, Colchester

“Although this anniversary has a ‘feel good’ aura about it, a lot of people are struggling. I think it would mean more to name something after her in deference to her long service e.g. a horse race, or something else she is passionate about” - Colleen, Surrey

“She has so much and a yacht is only a symbol and not a necessity. So she has done a good job as a queen, give her a diamond watch and a certificate!” - Linda, Wiltshire

 “She does not need it; give her £50-worth of Marks and Spencer’s vouchers instead” - Anon

Argument 6 - A yacht is a waste in the longterm


“However a yacht is paid for, it would probably be the public purse that would meet on-going costs such as fuel, maintenance, and security” - John, Manchester

“It’s bunkum that a yacht would be used for other public purposesremember talk of Britannia being used as a hospital ship? It didn’t go to the Falklands or anywhere else for that matter, disguised as a hospital” - Pat, London

“If she was given a yacht it would spend so much time being unused that it would be like giving a gym membership to a couch potato. A really stupid idea” - Arthur, Didcot

“She is 86 and her husband is 90, with heart problems
, how often are they likely to use it? And what for?” Anon“It's not clear what purpose the Queen serves. If it is a constitutional role, then she can use Government transport. If it is a marketing and tourism role, then the money can be better spent targeting those areas directly rather than spending it on a yacht” - Anon

“It's far too late in her reign for her to be given a yacht
, it would have been far better and probably cheaper had the Britannia been refurbished. The Queen is unlikely to continue working at the rate she does at present and therefore I feel it would be a waste of money, irrespective of who foots the cost” - Jan D, West Wiltshire

 

3. Indifferent to...the Queen's yacht

“As long as tax payers don't pay for it in any way whatsoever I don't care, and that includes running costs. It won't make her very popular at this sort of time” - Anon

“It seems a bit of an ostentatious thing to provide at a time of austerity for everyone. But I'm not especially concerned either way. Whilst it's an expense, the Queen is representing us as head of State, so maybe it's a good thing? I don't know. My jury is out on this one” - Morgan, London

“It would be better to reinstate Britannia. She is still sound, just needs updating, plus the royals designed her” - Phil, Northwest

“I have no particular problem with a privately funded yacht, but taxpayer funding is right out given that we're cutting back on far more important spending. After all, it would probably need to be operated by the Navy and they're having difficulty keeping what's left of the fleet at sea, let alone a state yacht” - Richard, Oxford

“Good idea but should be through private donations. I'd give if the opportunity was presented” - Anon

“I think the Queen can use the Royal Yacht to promote British interests oversees but we need to be realistic that the tax payer cannot fund it at the moment – so it needs handling with sensitivity. But it could be a wonderful good news story – new jobs funded by private enterprise, putting the Great back into Great Britain or something...” - Tracy, South Yorkshire

“I think it's all a fuss over nothing. Either give her a yacht or don't. Just stop making such a big deal about it” - Kyle, Northeast

Are you for, against, or on the fence when it comes to the Queen's yacht?

Get on the soapbox and add your voice to the debate using the comment box below