The arguments against my campaign for a new royal yacht never held water
The Queen’s sadness over Britannia’s downgrade in 1997 is well known – but it’s less clear whether she wants a replacement. Over the past five years, several ministers have sidelined me in Parliament to tell me that we are wasting our time because of the lack of interest from the royal family.
It did not correspond to what I was told. For example, at a luncheon in 2012, the Duke of Edinburgh reportedly said that a replacement ship that could accommodate business leaders was a “very nice idea”.
So in 2017 I wrote Prince Philip to ask if this was the case. In a response from his private secretary, he said the issue of Britannia’s successor was “a matter of the SM government”.
This could explain why there was no mention of the Royal Family being involved in the Number 10 announcement. I suspect Buckingham Palace sees how news of the new flagship is received before they want to get involved publicly.
I hope the Palace can see how popular this new flagship will be, judging by readers who wrote to The Telegraph to express their support and the dozens of Tory MPs, led by Jake Berry and Craig Mackinlay, who have supported the campaign.
Of course, Labor MPs have remained largely silent. Sir Keir Starmer, their leader, missed a tip that did not lend his support to the campaign. It’s the kind of patriotic gesture that would appeal to his constituents lost in the sieges of northern England.
With construction on the new flagship starting next year, the new ship – possibly named after Prince Philip or even Britannia – could enter service as early as 2025.
In the official history of Britannia in 2003, the late Duke said that the decision not to replace Britannia in 1997 “marked the end of an unbroken line of Royal Yachts dating back to the reign of King Charles II”.
Mr Johnson – with backing from The Telegraph – is set to start righting this historic wrong, whether Twitter likes it or not.