Ah yes, just what we need during a global pandemic and economic crisis: a £200m yacht
In yet another mawkish ode to the Royal Family, a new yacht is set to be constructed in memory of the late Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. Reports suggest it will cost £200 million to build. A £200m yacht. In the midst of a pandemic. Give us strength.
So, we can’t find the money to house the homeless or make sure kids get school meals, but we were all set to give MPs another pay rise and now we have enough funds to build £200m yacht? Right, got you.
The ship will be christened the ‘HMS Prince Philip’ and is set to succeed the current royal vessel, the HMY Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997. Yachts like this are supposed to promote British trade and interests overseas, as well as hosting royal engagements and important meetings.
It is this primary purpose (at least on paper) that is being used as justification for why this project is apparently so important, with Boris Johnson apparently set sign off and get things started “within weeks”.
A Downing Street spokesperson said “[w]e are always looking for new ways to promote global Britain around the world, driving investment back to the UK and delivering value for money for the British people.” Don’t think many of us would class erecting a glorified boat with, presumably, taxpayer contributions as “value for money”.
Conservative MP, Craig Mckinlay, is one of the key campaigners for the yacht, stating: “I am delighted that the years of effort to prove to ministers the value of such a vessel to our country’s global brand is now on the brink of becoming reality. My latest joint letter signed by fellow MPs and peers may have helped get this project over the line. I am overjoyed.” Alright, calm down, Craig.
He went declare that “A new national flagship proudly bearing the name of Prince Philip can be no better memorial to this much-loved and respected man”. We had a memorial: it was all over the telly for like three days – so much so that more people complained at the blanket coverage than ever before.
While we understand the sentiment – Prince Philip having served in the Royal Navy during WWII, as Lord High Admiral from 2011 and holding a general love for all things sea-faring – the man himself stated he wanted a “no-fuss funeral”, yet the entire thing broadcast around the nation.
Whatever you think of the Royal Family, splashing out on a £200m yacht, not even a month after a highly lavish, pseudo-state funeral, that will no doubt have cost significant amounts to honour a seemingly modest and understated man, doesn’t seem to chime with his wishes – it certainly doesn’t paint the government’s priorities in the best light.
While some MPs are calling to have the soon-to-be commissioned vessel be given military capacity – as if to in some way render the idea more practical and, more importantly, the money more palatable – all it does is further highlight how out of touch this current administration truly are.
PM’s spokesperson wanted to reiterate that he “has an exciting vision for shipbuilding in this country and is committed to making the UK a shipbuilding superpower”, they failed to recognise the tactless nature of the announcement.
Moreover, Tory backbenchers have seemingly been calling for this new yacht since 2016, so it hardly feels like the most sincere and fitting tribute if it’s just a case of tagging the Duke’s on some posho’s plaything they’ve had in the pipeline for years.
While former International Trade Minister, Mark Garnier, insisted that no taxpayer money would be used for a potential build back then, who knows whether that still the case under a new government and a new Prime
Even still, the alternative then was through paying for it through private investors, which only further illuminates the blatant ‘chumocracy’ we’ve seen plenty of this year, with private contracts handed out to Matt Hancock’s mate and now the Greensill scandal.
This ship would be just the latest in a long line of blatant and brazen to the point of disbelief actions that fundamentally neglect to take into account or even take any notice of the true needs and wants of the British public. They aren’t for us, they’re for them.